I have been neglecting my reviewing duties. But don’t worry, I’ve still been reading. I haven’t given up on the printed word (and image). Just been slow in typing about them. So here is a list of the books I read before coming to Australia.
There is disappointing news and great news in my world.
Disappointing: Last week I had an interview for a student coordinator position with the Digital Tattoo project at UBC. I was pretty excited about the opportunity. It’s a project that deals with teaching students about managing their online identities and why it’s important. Another project I’m working on recently posted a decent explanation of the concept. The interview went fine but as you can guess from me filing this under “disappointing news” I didn’t get the job. There will be more jobs and it’s not like I’m hurting for social media experience on my resume. It would be nice to get some actual project management experience though. That felt like my biggest weakness in the interview. Selah.
The really cool thing is that I’m going to be doing my practicum at the Center for Cartoon Studies‘ Schulz Library in April. The CCS is a tiny grad school in a tiny town with a tiny library and it’s dedicated to comics. It’s kind of amazing. I talked to the librarian the other day and she’s excited to have me out there for a couple of weeks. They’re doing cataloguing projects now but might be moving on to other things by the time I get there. I’ve been told I won’t be bored and I can’t imagine I would be.
One of the things I’ve read about library school is that you have to make it work for you and take advantage of the opportunities you have that you won’t once you graduate. Just calling up the Schulz Library to see if I could come hang out for two weeks might not fly if I was just a person who liked libraries. (Even if it might on their end, I personally wouldn’t be able to just do that.) But now that Michelle at the SLAIS office (who is awesome) did that initial contact I get to do something supercool. I mean, really, I would love to be a comics and zines librarian. There aren’t many jobs like that, but when they show up, because of this experience I’ll actually have some proof that “This dude likes comics and knows some stuff about them.” So yeah.
I’m also trying to pull comics into all my projects this term, to try and build a bit of a focus into my program here. It feels weird thinking about this stuff and crafting this whole school thing into a means to becoming the kind of librarian I want to be. Anyone who knows me knows that thinking ambitiously hasn’t been a big part of my life. But being a techie/blogging/comics & zines librarian is the kind of niche I’d like to occupy if I’m going to do this. If I could telecommute/live somewhere awesome while doing it, that’d be even better.
I am a bad zine-buyer, in that I go for good production values. Hastily-made shitty looking things with tonnes of typos and bad photocopying aren’t my cup of tea, even though that’s part of the true hardcore zine ethos. Self-Defense for Radicals by Mickey Z. has a nice cover and good illustrations (by Richard Cole) as it does its A-Z of self-defense techniques. It’s basically a pamphlet about street-fighting and not being afraid to fight dirty if you’re being attacked. Which is interesting enough. It’s kind of disparaging of pacifists and makes fun of chanting and dialogue as a way of dealing with some huge asshole hellbent on curbstomping you.
This was the masturbation issue of 1234V, everyone’s favourite zine about vaginas, and it was a fine issue. There was useful information about what not to shove up your ladybits and what happens in the ER for sex-toy related mishaps. Most of the issue was confessional stories about learning to masturbate and how much the writers enjoyed masturbation and how funny-odd it is that society doesn’t really talk about it. I appreciated Sarah Michaelson’s proposal to teach masturbation in school as probably the most whimsical variation on the theme.
There was a great piece by Jo Snyder about this woman in Toronto who teaches female ejaculation classes. The (detailed!) pictures from that one are at the staple page, so they’re exactly what the zine naturally opens to. Which could be uncomfortable if you’re reading this at work or something. But such are the risks of vajournalism.
I’ve been waiting for Can’tLit at the library for what feels like months. It’s a collection of short fiction from the many years of Broken Pencil magazine (edited by Richard Rosenbaum). The only writer whose stuff I knew before reading the book was Joey Comeau, and his story (about remembering that giraffes exist and the feelings that brings out at an office party) was pretty great. There were a lot of them that were pretty great, plus a few I didn’t much care for.
The idea behind the book’s title is that there’s a specific genre that is Canadian Literature (CanLit). That stuff tends to be rural coming of age stories by women named Margaret. This book (and Broken Pencil as a magazine) is dedicated to the less reputable forms of literature in our country. The twisted weird stories of punkrock and lust and sleeplessness (it was notable how many of the stories had to do with insomnia).
I like when these kinds of indie stories are legitimized. Making zine culture a bit more accessible and such. It’s the kind of thing I think I’m interested in as part of my career I think. Collecting, organizing and possibly legitimizing small-published weird little bits of the universe.