MONARCH #1: $12 ppd., 5½” x 8½”, printed, 69 pgs.

Sep 11, 2012

Heads up: this isn’t a proper zine, it’s a literary journal. In my mind, the difference is that a literary journal is just a vessel for aspiring writers to get their name out without regard for DIY ethics. But this one actually came together with more of a DIY spirit: it’s written by people who all live in the same apartment complex and hang out together, not a creative writing club at a private college. Then again, it’s printed professionally, has an ISSN, and is copyrighted. Maybe those are better indicators than my guesses about the authors’ intentions. Maybe I should just get on with telling you about the content instead of trying to define the difference between zines and literary journals.My favorites were a nostalgic narrative by Valery Petrovisky, a minivan-themed essay by Jesse Sugarmann and Chris Engman, and a reflection on Nevermind’s twenty-fifth anniversary by Caleb Thompson. I find that slice-of-life writing easier to relate to than the rest of the pieces in this journal: fiction stories about Charles Bukowski and Justin Bieber, as well as plenty of poetry. I have a personal vendetta against that medium, but I’ll give these guys some credit because their poetry isn’t too abstract to make sense. This is good for a first issue, but in my totally biased opinion, it would be cooler if it was a zine instead of a journal. The price would be way lower if they made photocopies instead of going to a printer. The white space could be filled with cut- and-paste backgrounds to add some visual interest. The authors could add more personal experiences to their stories and take out the bios that list their published works. I’d much rather get an idea of their backgrounds by reading stories that incorporate biographical information than by reading bios that come across like a list of credentials.I approve of the concept of a community pitching in to make a literary journal, but I think that the editors need to step it up for future editions. The editor’s job is to mediate between what the writers want and what the readers want. They gave the authors their part: their name and work printed in a good-looking journal. Now they need to consider what the readers might want. –Lauren Trout (themonarchreview.com)

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