Spent part of the night listening to Irreparables‘ self-titled LP. The first lines I heard, over a ramshackle guitar line that loosely echoed Joy Division’s “Submission,” were “I wanna wanna wanna make a fanzine.” Appropriate, right? It didn’t hurt that much of this week’s column focuses on punk, or makes the DIY element of zinemaking particularly clear. I turned the record up and watched it spin.
Given the artists interviewed, I happily ordered the first two issues of the Philadelphia-based zine Pretty Signals. The second issue features a chat with La Luz about topics ranging from visual art to formal musical training; in the first issue, Frances Gibson of The Cannanes shares a reading list that reminds me that I need to listen to more from the Cannanes, and soon. (Reference Jessica Mitford’s Hons and Rebels and I’m sold.) There’s also a palpable sense of community here, from the interview with one of the organizers of Ladyfest Philly to a feature in which numerous people are asked to define feminism. As a bonus, reading the zine has led me to the music of The Pretty Greens, the band behind the zine; it’s definitely worth checking out.
Earlier this month, I went to WORD for the release party for Sarah McCarry’s novel All Our Pretty Songs. I walked home with a copy of the 16th issue of McCarry’s zine Glossolalia. Hand-bound and widescreen in its format, with a silver illustration of a cassette tape on the front, this issue is, essentially, an essay about McCarry’s favorite bar, writing, and reinvention. It’s perfectly paced and quite affecting, with a conclusion that seems just about perfect. Maybe it’s that I can relate a lot to this in a way that I might not have been able to in my twenties; maybe it’s that I can recognize the appeal of a bar that you don’t have to visit regularly in order to feel like a regular. Either way, though, this hit me in a big way.
Continuing the theme of nonfiction, we have the tenth issue of We’ll Never Have Paris. The essays collected here focus on different slices of life: of first encounters with divorce and mortality; of initial impressions of Occupy Wall Street; of a trip to Ireland buoyed by a newfound love of playing music which dissipated upon return. There are esoteric family traditions and economic anxiety and homesickness all to be found in these essays; small windows into lives that extend beyond the page. And the epilogue, about a dueling pair of desired final memories, is neatly contradictory.