(This review originally appeared on the Feminist Review blog http://feministreview.blogspot.com/2009/06/brainscan-23.html)
This second printing of Brainscan #23 was released in September 2008, but don’t worry about it being outdated. While the events in this zine happened between 1995 and 2003, none of Alex Wrekk’s narratives has an expiration date.
Wrekk’s travel-themed vignettes are entertaining stories, told the way a friend would talk about the wild things that have happened to her. Not only is this zine an amusing way to kill some time while riding public transit or sitting in a waiting room, it also allows the reader to experience bits of one woman’s life. From trying to discourage unwanted suitors to exploring the urban legends of Salt Lake City and helping an unappreciative bike jock fix a flat, I felt I was right there with Wrekk through every adventure.
The tales are not laid out in chronological order, which keeps the zine from feeling like an autobiography. Arranging the episodes out of sequence emphasizes them as brief glimpses of Wrekk’s life away from home. The fact that each short-short story is independent of the others, coupled with the booklet’s small size perfect for tucking into a backpack or purse, make it easy to read on the go. Readers can open to any page and dive right in without having to keep up with a plot or remember what they read last.
This black and white zine’s old-school cut and paste design is a delight. Nearly every page features an appealing background pattern, and vintage photos are scattered throughout. A variety of fonts, point sizes, and white-on-black printing keep the pages visually stimulating.
In her introduction, Wrekk writes that the first version of Brainscan #23 was “literally thrown together in the fits of a fever haze,” but it doesn’t seem like she did much editing before printing more copies. Missing words, typos, and grammatical errors plague this zine. I realize paid copyeditors don’t correct anything self-published, but I found the multitude of mistakes distracting. A single careful reading should have easily brought the most blatant of the needed revisions to Wrekk’s attention.
Overall, spending two dollars for theses thirteen tales from Wrekk’s journeys is a great entertainment value. At fifteen cents each, these stories are bargains! This is a zine I will pull from the shelf again and again when I’m stuck at home but want to get lost in the saga of the road.