May Zine Review

In this month's Zine Review, Peter Willis handpicks a basket of fantastic zines to read while soaking up the spring sunshine.

Peter Willis

16 May 2014

In this month's Zine Review, Peter Willis handpicks a basket of choice zines to read while soaking up the spring sunshine - we've got brain facts, walking stories, meta-poetics and more. The best bit? Everything's available to buy at the ICA Bookshop, either in-person or online. Just follow the links, friend.

Sad Selfies #1

It’s the craze that’s inspired a thousand thinkpieces and a strand of academic selfie studies all of its own. Whether you put it down to technologically enabled narcissism or representative of complete societal breakdown, all we can really know for sure is that it means something. If the selfie is a reclamation of the way a subject is represented in the age of GCHQ surveillance and big data, what does it say about us if we chose to represent ourselves with an emotional selfie? This zine collects 27 individuals, each submitting a selfie that collectively charts a generation’s anxiety, depression and listlessness, complete with a short description of each sadness. With reasons ranging from identity crises to illness to breakups, this could be read as a damning indictment of ‘millennial’ life under late-stage capitalism or just another example of narcissistic overshare: your call.    

Does Someone Have Sex In A Rockpool? Does Someone Die At The End?

A late contender for best title of anything we’ve ever stocked in the shop, this new zine is another offering from Jessica Susan Higgins, one of the overactive brains behind the exquisite Good Press Gallery in Glasgow (who we regularly steal stock ideas from). This limited publication neatly folds together five short stories all beginning with someone walking somewhere: a man walks along a country road, you walk to work, I walk along a beach, a woman walks down a suburban street, I walk through a shopping centre. Punctuated with the Museums Press signature mix of grainy found images, colourful, riso-printed interludes and snippets from other texts, you’ll have to find out for yourself the answers to the titular questions.    

Neural #47

Over thirty discrete regions of your brain are activated during orgasm according to an MRI scan of Kayt Sukel on page 6 of this latest issue of Neural. On page 12 there’s an interview with Neil Harbisson, whose inability to perceive colour led him to build a device that translates colours into sounds and streams them directly into his ear. Page 28 tells us of the Fragmented Orchestra, who transmit locally-produced sounds from 24 sites around the UK to a single location where they are blended sonically to be heard all at once.  On page 42, a special headset monitors how you read and changes the text accordingly. Maybe if you’re wearing one now it can generate a hilarious ending to this review.      

Legionary by Isabelle Eberhardt

This short story was written in 1902, when Eberhardt was 25. Two years later she would die in a flash flood in the Algerian desert, leaving behind the unfinished novel Vagabond and a life of adventure that would continue to astonish and inspire over a century later. Born illegitimately into the Genevan aristocracy, virtually all her family died through illness or suicide after moving to North Africa. She was left to spend her short years nomadically wandering, occasionally disguising herself as a man to pass into otherwise forbidden places and ferociously writing in her journals. This fragment, as Michael Reid lays out in the introduction, would most likely have been worked into the narrative of Vagabond at some point, had Eberhardt not died so young. The story follows Dmitri, grown despondent with his group of Russian anarchists, who joins the French Foreign Legion in Algeria. Monsters Emporium Press have published an indispensable accompaniment to Eberhardt’s novel, translated for the first time into English by Marc Lazar.   

Test Centre #4

from the likes of
Sam Riviere, Stewart Home - 
plus thurston moore (o dear) and
the usual test centre guys / Sinclair & Petit. 

Last night on tumblr
I fav’d a poem
by Ed Sanders / which I’ve just seen
is re-published here, who knew?
what a coincidence. 

Lee Rourke/Amy Matterer/Tom Clark
plus several others too
printed on a risograph
Very good. ■ 

Peter Willis is a Magazine Buyer for the ICA Bookshop.

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