Zine Review: Front and Centre

After seeing many slap-dash litzines over the past few years, I find F&C to be a definite refreshment with its crisply edited fiction and reviews. Matt Peake’s “Record Stores” protagonist, a formerly drug-addled teen, buys a condo for unexpectedly poignant reasons while reminiscing about her youth. Peake does nice work with a repeated motif of chewing on glass that makes the ending resound.

Claudia Labin’s story of an old man’s racist conversational mistake with a childhood friend is similarly fine-tuned and strong–another highlight.

Craig Barron’s “The Annex” suffers from trying to cram a large amount of geography and movement into a short story–I lost my way and the reasons for the character’s cross-provincial travelling multiple times through the five-page piece.

Bill Brown’s editorial positions F&C as an edgy alternative to work churned out by, or under, the machine of Canadian granting bodies, Chapters and Oprah. However, the other two stories included in the collection fall into a predictable pattern of lewdness–they’re definitely coherently written, but don’t do a lot besides being twee, talking about a suitor seemingly setting himself up to drink his conquest’s piss (“Golden Showers”), or a young man making a snow sculpture self-portrait complete with giant penis to tell off the stodgy lady he shovelled snow for (“Horse”). They’re Stuart Maclean at the bar after a couple of beers–not shocking, not really endearing, just good for a light smirk. (Sarah Pinder)

Litzine, #19, Black Bile Press, 573 Gainsborough Ave, Ottawa, ON, K2A 2Y6, ardentdreams.com/bbp, $5


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