Wednesday, July 28, 2004

From the Reading Pile XXIX

Homezine #2 (Winter/Spring 2004)
If your conception of homeschooling is that it's usually done by conservative Christians who don't want to expose their children to the evils of society and their kids' peers, Homezine will come as a pleasant and educational surprise. The well-designed digest includes writing about the misconceptions about homeschooling, the occasional joys that come if you pause to pay attention, some humor, an article about the "hidden curriculum" that reminded me of Neal Stephenson's Young Lady's Primer, zine and book reviews, and a handful of earthy Hathor the Cowgoddess cartoons by Heather Cushman-Dowdee. While Kim and the other parents' motivations to home school aren't made explicit, I don’t question them because they seem so level headed, organized, and caring. Some involvement of their kids in the production of the zine would be welcome. Kim Campbell, 6917 W. Shakespeare Ave. #2, Chicago, IL 60707. [$2 US 36S :11]

The Inner Swine Vol. 10 #1 (March 2004)
This issue of Somers' long-running zine (since 1995?) is loosely organized around the theme of advertising. But make no mistake, this is no Stay Free, and the emphasis here should be placed on "loosely." Opening with a roundup of commentary about the zine from other sources (a good way to warm up the audience?), Somers offers his body to advertisers, recounts a story about getting lost hiking in New Hampshire, details why he loves living near New York, considers whether he could live on $1 million, analyzes the nature of genius, and offers some hangover tips. While I laud Somers' stick-to-it-iveness, the Inner Swine isn't really my thing, largely because of his rambling writing style. That said, maybe it's yours. Jeff Somers, P.O. Box 3024, Hoboken, NJ 07030 [$2 US 64S :13]

Judas Goat Quarterly #21 (Spring 2004)
Politically playful, Schreiber's zine includes a jokey introductory letter by Richard M. Daley, an essay about global warming, an analysis of the coming Bush-Kerry race, a piece on gay marriage, and an article about dark horse Ralph Nader. Lavishly liberal but overly verbose, this edition features the worth reading "I Don't Know This City" and "The Sniper's Victim," but otherwise, despite the zine's Chicago flair, there's little to recommend this read. Those already on Schreiber's side will learn little, and doubters won't be distracted. Preacher, meet choir. Grant Schreiber, Judas Goat Quarterly, 4422 N. Racine #35, Chicago, IL 60640. [$2.50, $10 for four issues, trade, free to prisoners, no age statement required 20M :04]

Malady #2 (My Thoughts on Self Employment)
Just as Adam Suerte's comic Aprendiz (last reviewed in Zine World #20) addresses the ups and downs of working as a tattooist, Malady's minicomic considers the challenges of being a licensed massage therapist -- not a masseuse, who "gives hand jobs." This issue, framed by vignettes of an escapist vacation to Florida with her parents (swimming pools, HBO, and Snakepit, oh my!), shares some stories about Malady's professional struggles. With a clean, comedic, Megan Kelso-, MK Reed-, and Maddy Tight Pants-like flair, Malady touches on the noisiness of her office, the unwanted need to advertise, the licensing process, and her occasionally creepy clients. I'd read another issue of Malady in a minute, and if her comic is any indication, an hour massage is worth much more than $10.95. Keep the faith, Malady! Malady, IPRC, 917 SW Oak St. #218, Portland, OR 97207. [32S :05]

Overthrow (October 2003)
Sturgeon's Law holds that 99% of science fiction is crap. And so it goes with small press and self-published poetry. George's photocopied chapbook does contain its requisite 1%. "Fiendships" includes the lines "Powell and Rice/make all the cocktail parties," "Teletotem Pole" introduces the idea of "imagination masks," and "Television" opines that I "may hate political poems." In response to thelatter, I'd say, "No, I just dislike poorly written and formatted ones." Points for trying -- any small-press endeavor is worth pursuing -- but please polish before you publish. Anthony George, 85-24 115th St., Jamaica, NY 11418. [20S :02]

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