Friday, October 15, 2010

The Other Wo/Man Zine

Edited by Sarah Noonan and Emily Ostapovitch
Half sized. $5 (postage included)

I wasn’t really sure what this zine was going to be about. I mean, I have a piece in it (admission: I’m friends with the editors) and I still had no idea what other people would contribute. Interestingly, it seems that many of the other contributors had similar feelings and the contents of this zine cross many spectrums from poetry to recipes (always the zine staple) to erotic (no frontal nudity) photos.
Yet they all manage to orbit around the idea of “the other wo/man”. Okay, maybe if you saw a piece independently of anything else that’s not what you would have immediately though about, but when presented together in a zine like this they manage to create the outline of a shape/idea.

The best pieces in here are by the two editors (perhaps because they knew what their contributions would be before the zine was put together?). Ostapovitch contributes an excerpt from a journal entry she wrote while in Russia. In between pictures of Russian soldiers (and after a kick ass title page/logo) Ostapovitch writes about coming to terms with the end of a relationship, dealing with being a foreigner in Russia, and other personal crises. Her word choice creates images in the mind of the reader, and though I have the benefit of having been to Russia I feel as though anyone will be able to read this piece and understand the experiences she was going through. Well, maybe not the parts written in Cyrillic, but those aren’t really important.

The final paragraph of her piece says
“Pelevin wrote that this country is drowning in its own melting iceberg. The thaw is glorious and dangerous. I take risks but so far I’ve always made it up for air. The day’s themes are of little importance, fire or water, shifting from moment to moment.”

Sure she’s paraphrasing someone else for the idea, but I wish my journal entries were ever that interesting.

Emily’s next piece is actually written by her grandfather, and is about how he met his wife in the Netherlands during the Second World War. It’s not what I expected to find in a zine, but it’s crazy to read about experiences like that, and a rather sweet story to boot.

Noonan’s final piece is also about an experience in Eastern Europe. This time she and some other people in Ukraine go on the most terrible hiking trip I have ever heard of. They head out without the proper gear, it pours down with rain, they get lost, they run out of food, and they end up sleeping in an old couple’s house somewhere up in the mountain. It sounds like one of the worst possible trips you could ever go on. I’m glad I didn’t go.

There are also interesting pieces on the decolonization of sex (“Every orgasm should be an act of decolonization”), a bizarre play about installing Ubuntu, a neat foldout, and more. Like I said above this zine encompasses a lot of different types of content.

Of course, not all the content is good. There are a number of pieces I didn’t really care for, and there’s also the piece I wrote. Which, as a bizarre piece of fiction, is completely out of place with the rest of the content of the zine, and isn’t that well written (I can’t write fiction!). Still there are a couple of moments in it I enjoyed upon rereading. And overall the zine is huge, and packed full of stuff well worth checking out.

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