Finale 95 #3: ‘Bildungsroman I’
Alanna Why, 26 pages ($2 I think?)
I’m on record as being a big fan of Alanna Why’s zines, so I was psyched to hear she was putting together the third issue of Finale 95 for the Zine Off. What I most enjoyed about her previous zines was the way her zippy, almost slapstick comedy chops seemed to spring out of her frustration with all of the shittiness (mini wage jobs, idiot boys, high school, larger systemic injustices) of being a teenage outsider. I knew the new issue was going “full-on perzine” according to Why, but I was still a bit surprised by how sharply it deviated from her previous work.
Gone are the goofy comics, record reviews and absurdist interviews. In their place, Why’s adopted a “bildungsroman” structure to speak frankly about her (ongoing) coming of age and struggles adapting to the type A-personality suckhole that is Carleton U’s J-School. Her writing is relatable both in a general sense (crushing on someone and being crushed on are both tricky situations) and specifically (Like how are you supposed to know when an Ottawa punk show actually starts? It sure as hell isn’t the time on the poster.). Zines lend themselves to creating a sort of shared emotional community between writer and reader, and I think this is part of Why’s goal with her new style: we’re all fumbling for the light, but maybe a record of my trial-and-error-and-error will help you avoid burning your fingers. There are still flashes of her trademark deadpan humour, as in the passage below:
“Summer started the way it normally did for me: Dealing with anger management issues caused by the unfairness of the capitalist system in which we live. For the past two years, I had been the apathetic manager of a suburban ice cream parlour.”
On balance though, it seems part of learning to like herself better has been to scrub away at the irony and pretension that she saw as encrusting her writing. Many bright young people adopt these as defences, and the result is expression (and perhaps even experience) that is ultimately facile. I’m looking forward to seeing how Why’s writing continues to develop and grow.
JM’s JaM: Young Marble Giants – Brand-New-Life