Paranoy #16, early fall 1997. Second year of college, about to turn 20. Second to last issue. Switched up the format for the last two issues.
Going through my zines was just about all the time I could bear to spend with teenage me. But since I’m in between drafts of the novel-shaped thing that I’m writing, I’m in research mode. Part of that research means reading through my teenage diaries in an attempt to capture more about the time and feelings I’m writing about. So here are my teen diaries. They are pretty to look at with their covers closed, and less pretty to look at once the covers are opened. I flipped through them in order to find the certain ones I wanted and brought them up to live with the rest of my stacks of research items. It might be a while before I can really read them. If you kept diaries when you were younger, did you hang on to them? Can you reread them without cringing?
*At Stacked, Kelly is writing about “Why Talking About Girl Reading Matters.” From her post:
“When we critique books and discuss books through that un/likable dynamic, we deny complexity to not just the girls on the page, but we deny girls reading those books complexity, too. We make a judgment on the actions both in the fictional world and in the real world.
I want girls to read books and know that the decisions those characters make are dependent entirely upon the characters and the opportunities presented to them in the story. I want girls to know that the decisions they have to make are dependent entirely upon themselves and the opportunities presented to them in their lives and worlds. That being likable and being nice aren’t the reasons to be making choices, but rather, that being likable and being nice are choices that they get to make as they work through what it is they need to work through.”
*At A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, “On Liking Characters.”
*Christa Desir has her take on this same topic with “Consent and Sensitivity: ‘Good Sex’ in YA Literature.”
*Carrie Mesrobian has her list of books up at “Sex/Consent Positive YA Books: The #SVYALit Project.”
*At PW, “12 Books That End Mid-Sentence.” Perfect timing, as I’d just told some friends that my first draft of the thing I’m currently writing (it’s more of a “thing” than a “novel” at this point) ends this way. It won’t stay like that–I just wrote myself into a corner and then bailed. That’s Future Amanda’s problem.
*At A Chair, a Fireplace and a Tea Cozy, “My Way or the Highway,” books about teens leaving home.
*Be sure to check out the new page at the webcomic The Dead Have Issues.
*Over at Kitchen of Disorder, Sarah has been posting issues of the zine she did nearly 15 years ago as a teenager. As you might guess, I’m totally into it.
Paranoy #15 came out summer 1997. It was, as you will see, an 80s-themed issue. It was a fat issue, way more pages than usual, with tons of contributions. The front cover was done by Akiko Carver, with the back cover done by Rop Vasquez. Only two more issues to go!
Nearing the end of the existence of Paranoy–just a few issues to go. This is Paranoy #14, printed in May 1997. No more cranking them out every other month now that I’m in college. Cover art done by Andy Lutz, aka Lutz A.D, present-day creator of great webcomic The Dead Have Issues.
Paranoy #13, the first issue I made in college, December 1996. Cover art by my high school friend Jamie Schaefer, who did a zine called By Jove.
Above image drawn by Andy Lutz, aka Lutz A.D., who now does the rad webcomic The Dead Have Issues.
A song from a band mentioned in this issue of the zine (actually, it’s possible they’re mentioned in every single issue): “Hateful Notebook” by the Descendents.
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
When Alice finds out she has leukemia, she asks her friend Harvey, who would do anything for her, to help her do some “things” with what time she has left. Like a bucket list, Harvey asks? Alice prefers to call it a Just Dying To-Do List, but the concept is the same. Harvey is hesitant to say yes, especially when he asks her to elaborate and she says she can’t tell him what’s on the list–she just needs him to agree to help. He does, because she’s Alice, and of course he will help her. Alice’s list mostly revolves around revenge and other high-risk interpersonal events. She thinks, “…There was one privilege to dying: the right to live without consequence.” Unfettered by any real concerns for how her actions will affect her life, Alice creates elaborate and humiliating revenge plans. This all seems like a great plan until Alice gets completely unexpected news: she’s in remission.
The narration bounces back and forth between Harvey and Alice, as well as between “then,” the timeline where Alice has leukemia, and “now,” the present when she’s in remission. It’s a little hard to feel like you know Alice, as a reader, because we really only see her when she’s dealing with her diagnosis and then dealing with the fallout of her actions. She’s cruel, manipulative, and distant, which hardly endear her to a reader, but do make her come across completely realistically as a complicated teenager dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Given her diagnosis and mindset, I can’t say I wouldn’t also end up chucking a skillet through a sliding door or unleashing my worst self on everyone I disliked. The hardest thing for Alice is her feelings for Harvey. Their relationship grows more complicated as the story goes on. Their history together, what they share during her illness, and their true feelings for each other are never simple or pretty. Murphy has created an incredibly nuanced and often dark look at what it means to be preparing to die and how to live with the news that you probably won’t–not yet, anyway. Honest, funny, inventive (the revenge plots Alice thinks up–whoa!), and thought-provoking. Give this to readers who like their main characters to have an edge–Alice is all edges.
Review copy courtesy of Edelweiss
*At Teen Librarian Toolbox, “Slut Shaming part 1: A Discussion by author Christa Desir.” Part of the ongoing sexual violence in young adult literature project. If you work with teens in any capacity, you absolutely need to be following this project. Also check out “Slut Shaming part 2: A Discussion of Something Like Normal by its author, Trish Doller.”
*At CBC Diversity, I bookmarked Aaron Hartzler’s “Diversity 101: Religion in YA.” Give that my WIP concerns religion, I’m paying extra close attention to his points.
*At Diversity in YA, Malindo Lo’s “Diversity in YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults (Updated for 2014)” is absolutely essential reading. Very eye-opening.
*At Kitchen of Disorder, Sarah has posted issue #2 of her teenage zine, Rubble & Shit. LOVE THIS! Psyched to see someone else facing her teen self through old zines.
*From the Files of Upcoming Books I’m Super Excited About: Amber Keyser and Kelly Jensen are working together on an anthology called The V-Word, which will have personal stories by women about having sex for the first time. You can read about it on Amber’s site and can read Kelly’s recent post about how what role she will play. I am so, so excited to start seeing more conversations about girls and sexual experience everywhere. FINALLY!!
*At Epic Reads, “An Epic Chart of 162 Young Adult Retellings.” Retellings or re-imaginings of popular classic literature, myths, fariy tales and Shakespearean plays in YA. Awesome!
*At The Toast, “Dirtbag Hamlet.” If you’re offended by swears, beware (also, we must not be friends–how’d you find this blog?).
*At Claire Legrand’s tumblr, you absolutely need to go read “The Importance of the Unlikable Heroine.” I want to quote the whole entire long post here, but instead I’ll just demand that you go read it. Let’s all worry less about if a female character is likable, okay?
*As always, check out the latest page over at the rad webcomic The Dead Have Issues.
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Emily Bean suddenly shows up at the Amherst School for Girls in the middle of her junior year, making her new classmates wonder what her story is. No one transfers so suddenly for no reason. Her new roommate tells a nosy classmate that Emily is an orphan, that her parents died in an avalanche. That’s not the real story, though her real story is equally (if not more) surprising and upsetting. After Emily breaks up with Paul, her boyfriend, he brings a gun to school and commits suicide in the library, in front of Emily.
While at her new school, Emily feels an immediate and intense connection with Emily Dickinson, who lived in Amherst. Emily begins writing poems, finding that they often come to her nearly fully formed. Her poems capture her many layers of grief as well as dance around her secrets. Not overly concerned with rules, Emily leaves campus repeatedly to walk around town, smoke, and visit Dickinson’s home. Emily forges tentative relationships with her roommate, KT, a teacher, and, eventually, a classmate she finds pretty irritating. The grief and tragedy are deep in this book (there’s another layer to it that I’m intentionally leaving out). The combination of Emily’s current thoughts and feelings, the flashbacks to her time with Paul, and her poetry make for a powerful picture of a grieving young woman who has survived an almost unimaginable tragedy.
Printed in August 1996, Paranoy #12 features a cover by my lifelong friend Sara Witty. I’m scanning so many pages of zine reviews because I think it’s interesting to see the different kinds of zines that were being produced and the places they were coming from. If you weren’t part of the zine culture of the 90s, this gives you a little peek at how flourishing it was.