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Zine Review: Friends, Get Wayward

I just got back from my road trip. It was supposed be an epic journey and for the most part, the trip held up its end of the deal. Last night I came home from driving through hundreds of miles of America, telling Alex to look at the mountains. I said that over and over again: “Alex, look at the mountains!”

Then I asked him to change the music and hand me a potato chip, another potato chip, another potato chip please. Alex was great. We listened to HP Lovecraft stories from LibriVox and it was great. (Example: The Shadow over Innsmouth.)

So anyway, last night I tore into an order from Pioneers Press that arrived while I was away. I had a lovely stack of mail to open and the Pioneers package was what I couldn’t keep my hands off of. After watching Big Love with my mom, I climbed into bed and raced through Becoming the Media: A Critical History of Clamor Magazine (informative) and Daring to Struggle, Failing to Win: The Red Army Faction’s 1977 Campaign of Desperation (brutal).

I had a hell of a time getting sleepy, so I also finished the novel On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee, which was like The Windup Girl meets Brave New World. EXCELLENT.

Can you believe that I haven’t gotten to the point of this post yet? Just now, drinking tea, I read Friends, Get Wayward. The author, Adam Gnade, might be famous. It’s kind of unclear to me, the way it always is with these indie-publishing kids. Adam Gnade reminds me of Daniel Vaccerelli but with a totally different shtick. It’s the dedication to an aesthetic, I guess.

Friend, Get Wayward is a zine by Adam Gnade
Selfies are the pictorial soul of my generation, lol.

Friends, Get Wayward was very stream-of-consciousness. The best parts were vignettes of encounters with strangers, whether direct collisions or conversations that the author overheard and recorded. He mentioned typing on his phone at the airport, and gosh, it was endearing because I do the same thing all the time. On this road trip, I lugged my paper journal with me, but mostly I have iNotes to retrieve from my email and sort.

I gotta complain about one thing: I’m sick of sad-guy writers going on about other classic sad-guy writers. The Beats, especially Kerouac, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, thankfully not Hemingway. I would never deny that these men were geniuses, but UGH, is this how y’all feel when I adulate Sylvia Plath?

I’m not doing a good job of explaining that I liked this zine. I’ll leave you with the quotable quote that stuck in my heart:

"It's a symphony of shit. It's a beautiful life. It's all we get." Original background photo by Daniel Krieg.
Original background photo by Daniel Krieg.

Ain’t that just the nature of existence? The zine costs $4 at Pioneers Press.

Zine Review: The Average and Different Days #5

I traded with Mnon for issue #5 of her perzine The Average and Different Days, which you can buy inexpensively on Etsy. She also sent me On the Verge of Summer, a diminutive one-pager. Mnon writes that her latest perzine installment “deals with the need to be creative, scary phone calls,” and miscellaneous components of a French college girl’s mental health. (English isn’t Mnon’s first language, but the errors are only minor grammar blips. Her writing is easy to understand.)

The Average and Different Days #5 zine, plus On the Verge of Summer
Note: the pink is less saturated in person.

The Average and Different Days #5 zine

As you can see, The Average and Different Days is a traditional cut-and-paste typewritten zine. Pages are embellished with collage, illustration, and handwriting. Most of the text is Mnon’s charmingly candid reflections on her life. Also found within: a playlist, comparison of coffee versus tea, and plenty of references to Twin Peaks.

Mnon’s diary-style narrative conveys the stress of organizing an academic and professional future. She is open and honest about her struggle with anxiety, definitely willing to be vulnerable with strangers. I relate to Mnon’s description of the oddly stultifying panic that came with tackling a bureaucratic dilemma at her school (“scary phone calls”).

The zine’s subtext is that early adulthood involves growing pains, some provoked by obstacles that seem insurmountable. I would recommend The Average and Different Days #5 to angsty students and/or anyone who likes girly stuff (AKA exactly me).

Zine Review: Graceful Party #1

Graceful Party is a black-and-white perzine. The first issue consists of 34 pages, wherein author Claire discusses lunar geography, flowers, horror dreams, and local diner menus, not to mention ghosts. She warns the reader on the first page, “If you have nothing but disdain for feminine trivia, please turn back now.”

I enjoyed this zine a lot. Surprisingly, so did my dad. He is a 58-year-old man, not necessarily the target audience. Dad said, “I especially like the sort of headlong quality of her writing. It’s just — coming out!”

Graceful Party #1 is available for trade and probably also for money — maybe even free? You can email or check out this Tumblr post.

Graceful Party zine
Photo via the creator on Tumblr.

I appreciated the beautiful presentation of this zine. Floral wrapping paper and a handwritten note made me realize that I’ve been neglecting an essential part of the snail-mail experience when I send out my own zines. I can’t write a personal note for every envelope of Balm Digest, but I can take a little more care to make the package fun to open. It’s awesome that zines are a multi-stage experience, a sensory experience, and I want to create a special moment at the beginning like Claire did.

The content of Graceful Party #1 is a combination of illustrations and whimsical commentary. Drawings are done with thick black lines that have an incongruous buoyant quality. There is a lot of visual repetition, using the sort of mesmerizing patterns found in a book of optical illusions. Claire’s narrative dabbles in the occult, with friendly girlish handwriting. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer rather than HP Lovecraft. Claire asks on page 22, “In daily life, how are you haunted? How might you be a ghost? Are you already a ghost? How? What is a ghost? Discuss.”

Near the end of the zine, Claire suggests listening to Unknown Rooms by Chelsea Wolfe, Brooklyn White, and Circus Maximus by Momus. On the last page, she explains references from throughout the zine, and provides credit for Creative Commons content, which thrilled me. Intellectual property is very important, but so many people flagrantly disregard it. All in all, I found Graceful Party #1 wonderful. If you love reading snippets of other people’s lives and are a fan of Ghostbusters or The X-Files, then I recommend this zine.

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