Monday, October 5, 2015

A High Degree of Spring Fever

Prose poems of drugs, cigarettes, bugs, sex, and sustained high drama--lotsa grit, cities.  No overall storyline, that I could find--just fragments.  It's beautifully made physically with nice paper and a few pretty pictures.  My main complaint is that everything is at the same volume--I would have appreciated variation in the emotions. It's all different kinds of loss, but I couldn't plug in anywhere.  I couldn't enter it.  Some people would really like it, but it's not for me.

A High Degree of Spring Fever by Elizabeth Maycox

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Different Shades of Normal #3

It was difficult for me to read this zine, as the writing is very abstract and the ideas are very familiar.  A randomly-chosen example is "And yeah, this world can suck sometimes but it doesn't always suck.  Cause even though life can be rough, I know I'm not the only one fighting to make things right."  Multiply this by 200 and you have the zine.  There are lots of abstract observations about "life" and humanity and struggling.  But I didn't read any ideas that were new or insightful or helpful.  Also, the art doesn't come together with the text. 

My favorite part of this zine was the ending where Zippity lists some facts about themself.  It was nice to have something concrete.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Everything. is. Fine.

I don't usually like 24 hour zines much because I want to read something good, not really caring how long it took to make. 

But I really like this one.  It's a fascinating story of a painful incident and the painful incident that followed--it's got just the right amount of detail to be very interesting. 

I learned a lot about the zine's speaker.  I wanted to be her friend.  A fantastic personality shines through. 

It contains heartache but also hope and strength.

The visuals are good, and I liked the content as well as style.  Relationships and especially breakups fascinate me.  I felt a lot of compassion for the speaker.

Five stars (out of five).

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Grim Love

Grim Love is a zine of short short stories and art.  The paper is glossy.  The layout has a professional feel (as opposed to DIY cut & paste photocopy).

The stories are partially based on fairy tales--some are and some aren't.  One's got a dragon.  One's got a ghost train.

I read the zine pretty quickly, sitting outside a library in San Leandro.  What struck me the most were the photos of the zine's creators with the bios in the back.

This zine probably would be best enjoyed by a young person who fancies himself or herself a lover of the macabre.

As for me, I love short short stories sometimes, especially when they're poem-like, but these aren't poem-like for me.

Monday, July 6, 2015

shelf life #2

This zine is about used books and going to booksales.  It was written by a book-loving, book-sale-loving couple who live in the United States on the East Coast.  I enjoyed the book reviews.  For example, I learned about a book by Buckminster Fuller that I'd like to try tracking down.  Another thing I liked was the description of a closed bookstore that one of the zine's authors visited in his youth and how he has idealized it.  I could relate to that Lost Beautiful Location phenomenon.

As someone who loves used books, I expected to enjoy this zine more than I did.  Its concept is fantastic.  (I'd actually seen it on etsy and longed for it but didn't want to pay the price.)  An inflated writing style got in the way of my pleasure, and the authors seem strangely out of touch with their own privilege.  One of the things I usually enjoy about zines is a down-to-earth-ness and some political awareness.  This one is more book-like than zine-like, though it's zine-like in length and includes some pictures.

This would be a great zine for lovers of used books who don't mind some pretentiousness and a sense of entitlement.  I could see it making a good gift for a non-DIY, apolitical book-loving friend or relative.  In a way it reminds me of Katie Haegele's excellent work about thrift store shopping--different style but sort of similar content.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

ginger binge

This is a zine of reviews of ginger ale.  There's also an intro, some history, cocktail recipes, and a list of recommended reading.  I found the writing style advert-like at times.  Certain sentences stuck out to me as sounding like they were from a commercial.

So some of the writing rubbed me the wrong way.  But I love the idea of this zine, and it did make me thirsty.  The drawings of the bottles and cans of ginger ale are adorable and full of personality.  Ming and I really wanted some ginger ale, after reading this zine.  So we bought some Reed's and enjoyed it.

Ginger Binge is a neat product, more like a little booklet than a cut-and-paste zine.  It would make a great gift to anyone who likes ginger ale or soda fans generally.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Phases of the Moon #5

Phases of the Moon #5 is a book-length zine by Stacey-Marie about being in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic.  A young woman in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic man.

It's really beautiful.  It's disturbing, smart, and good.  The writing is fantastic.

It's memoir with interspersed quotes from other texts.  I preferred Stacey-Marie's words to the quotes, but I did value some quotes that explained abuse bonding.  They were insightful.

I grew up as a child of an alcoholic--I am familiar with alcoholism from a child's perspective.  I never thought about my mom's perspective very deeply--I didn't dare.

So this zine was triggering for me.  Just when I thought the story couldn't get any more disturbing, it did.  Around page 50, I felt sick.  Around page 80, I told Ming, "This zine is killing me."  

(We were walking down the street, walking through sunlight, away from the cafe where I'd been reading.  I felt stuck in a nightmare, disoriented, and unwell.  But good writing can do that to me...)

And the ending is worth it.  And I could relate to the speaker a lot.  These are two quotes I loved from toward the end, ideas I've thought about over and over, through the years.

Was that my true self?  What does a "true self" even mean if we can so easily change based on our surrounding environment?  


I felt like if I accepted the disease model of alcoholism, then I would have to accept that all the fucked-up behaviors resulting from addiction were merely symptoms of a impersonal disease.  

I noticed some repetition in the storytelling, but it seemed okay there--the repetition worked--that's how we think.

It's text-heavy but there's some visual art that definitely adds to the experience.  

Overall I loved this zine and recommend it to anyone who's strong enough to read about abuse.  And I wish Stacey-Marie lots of readers and success.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

gravity powered pockets

This is a charming half-size zine photocopied in black & white with charming drawings.  I like all the autobiographical material.  It was fun to read that.  I like the lightness and personality and the honest way that being a kid is portrayed.  I like the list of places Robert rode horses and rode bikes.  I like what he said about a friend who died.

There's something deeply attractive about this zine, and I read it immediately upon receiving today's mail, skipping only a few paragraphs about climate change.  My only suggestion would be to talk about climate change in a way that's as vivid and engaging as the autobiographical material.  I don't know how to do that, but maybe Robert can figure it out--he's figured out so many other things.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Quit Your Job and Eat Pizza 2

This zine excited me.  It made me feel like new things are possible.  It's about going overseas for an art school thing for adults.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

if you'd like to hear it // i can sing it for you

if you'd like to hear it // i can sing it for you is a beautiful zine.  It's a comp zine about aging.  The perspectives are varied--young people watching old people die.  Older people watching themselves die.  It's artfully arranged and very well done.  The end is chilling and vivid.  It's about death a lot.  There are feelings here.  And good details.  The zine is full of many lives.

My favorite piece was "language lesson" by Mallory Everhart of Colorado.  It's about caring for dementia patients and loving endlessly.

Unflinching but never gratuitously graphic.  Smart and right.  Many comp zines are too long and arranged in a seemingly random fashion.  This one avoids that skillfully.

My only criticism is that some of the art photocopied poorly.  Also, Joe Biel's piece stuck out in that he has a long braggy bio when no one else in the zine does.

if you'd like to hear it // i can sing it for you is a great #1, and I hope A.L. finds much success with other issues.