Best of Intentions: The Avow Anthology, The: No page numbers, but it looks like it’s over 300, by Keith Rosson By Todd Taylor

First and foremost, Keith Rosson is one earnest motherfucker. He thinks long, hard, and tirelessly about DIY punk rock culture. He’s a gifted artist, a vehement smoker, a Northewestern night owl, and a guy who has gotten his ass kicked plenty of times. This book is a collection of the first sixteen issues of Avow zine, which is mostly Keith and a revolving cast of contributors. Although roughly ninety-eight percent of The Best of Intentions is told from the first person, Keith skirts the trap of over self-indulgence by mixing in constant self-effacement. I mean, shit, if someone goes into detail how he masturbated to the MTV dance show, “The Grind” and got caught naked, with boner, by his mom, whose response was to laugh at him, he’s not afraid of putting his life’s embarrassment under a hard light. What’s also satisfying is that The Best of Intentions takes the time to tell stories that involve other people, and not only as backdrops, but as larger, interlocking elements in this series of relationships called life. Stories like a one-armed man on the bus giving him a handful of change, of a good friend being irrevocably changed from a severe beating in a park, of when a little boy whose mom dresses cats up in costumes, in an act of open compassion, asks him for a big hug, to trying to save a bird from a cat, only to see its skull get crushed and have its eye pop out an incredible distance. Keith’s not afraid to stare at his zits and tell you all about them, but he’s also not afraid to take time out – in that one in ten of life’s experiences (according to his calculations) – to realize and cherish the small gifts. Keith also has some gems of great advice. My favorite is on the back of postcard he sent to a friend: “Take care of yourself, and for fuck’s sake, if you’re going to drive around with expired tags, take the gun out of the glovebox.” Having not read Avow prior to this and getting a lay of the land over cover-to-cover reading, Keith has definitely improved over the years and he’s learned his lessons well. With each issue, his storytelling became more acute and his drawings are developing more of a style of his own, which is good news, too. Recommended. –Todd (Fork in the Road Press, c/o Troy Malish, Box 1168, Elkford, BC V0B 1H0)