“I am a zine maker, not a book writer, and this is a perfect bound zine as much as it is a book.” So writes Taryn Hipp in the opening pages of her new Heavy Hangs the Head. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to be referring to it as a book from here on in — though I’m also totally considering her comments about it being a kind of zine as denoting it as fair game for this column. Because for all that Hipp’s book acts as a kind of memoir — of her childhood, her marriage, and her eventual sobriety — it’s also, ultimately, a celebration of the DIY ethos, punk rock, and community.
I’ve written about Hipp’s work in this space before, and like the zines of hers that I’ve read before, she’s an effective, straightforward narrator. In this book, she’s at her best when speaking candidly about her own discovery of punk rock and related DIY communities, which led to relationships both essential and destructive. The details of life are vividly rendered here, from living and working in a small Pennsylvania town to moving cross-country to going back to college after a long absence. Hipp’s candor about her life — and the way that she finds her own way, and her own value, in/from DIY, makes this a worthwhile read, whether you approach it as a particularly long zine or a particularly DIY-friendly memoir.
Issue 55.5 of Cometbus consists of Jo Treggiari’s Love You Like Suicide, which has previously appeared in a digital edition. It’s rough reading, focusing on a period of addiction, conflict, traffic accidents, and sudden intrusions of mortality — basically, the most deglamorized look at punk life one could imagine. It’s harrowing stuff, and it comes at the reader unrelentingly.
Also in the mail this week was Mairead Case‘s Summertime. This contains selected scenes and character sketches from her in-progress novel of the same name. (An earlier part of which, I believe, appeared as a Sunday Story.) As one might expect, I’m a fan of Mairead’s writing, and this only made me more excited to read her novel, whenever it’s out in the world. Smartly drawn characters and evocative scenes of young adulthood: it’s hard to go wrong when they’re done this well.