by Carmen Davis 2013 32 pages, stapled
This zine took my breath away. I've had it for a few years, but besides opening it and casually flipping through, I hadn't read it front to back until now. Through a combination of words, drawings, and black & white photographs, Davis (of Seam & Destroy and "Appalachian Monsters") creates a world that is unsettling yet recognizable. Her writing is vulnerable at its core, blurring the lines between flash nonfiction, poetry, and memoir. The quality of pieces like Appalachian Monster (where Davis talks about the first time she was ever called a hillbilly) and the prose in Tender/Tough rival what I've seen published in "fancy literary journals." Not to mention an untitled, typewritten piece on page 5 that has stuck with me hours later. Davis tackles topics relating to her upbringing in and relationship to Appalachia, including body image, self-esteem, loneliness, relationships, and abuse. The design of the zine feels haphazard but in the best sense of that word—the pages seem to welcome the reader in, opening up to explore shared secrets. I seriously love this zine.