WELCOME TO YOUR NEW LIFE OF YOU BEING HAPPY: $7, 5½” x 8½”, 32 pgs.

I was gripped by the title of this right away. Then I turned it over, saw the quotes about the writer, and the ISBN printed on the bottom. That part confused me since I thought this was a zine of personal ruminations. The zine, or chapbook, is chopped into two parts. Part one is poems titled after songs that author Rachel Bell and her boyfriend sing at karaoke. I’ll be the first to admit that poetry is not my bag, so it took me more than a few pages in to realize that’s what I was reading. At first I thought there were going to be anecdotes about each song’s relevance in her life. But, instead, we get lines like: “You exit the bathroom and I wonder if you can smell my poop and I love you,” in “Linger” by The Cranberries. I can’t help but feel like this comes across as banal, overly introspective prose intended to upset or shock the reader. Is this the G.G. Allin of alt lit? There’s some internet shorthand thrown in, too, which just comes off as immature. What you end up with are sentences like: “My beautiful dark twisted boyfriend taught me how to female ejaculate, tbh.” To be honest myself, I did enjoy the short stories in part two. There Bell tackles growing up doubting religion in Catholic school, questioning pro-life stances, and confronting feelings on her rapist. Though, even in that second part there are snippets that completely take me out of the piece—changing her tampon in an alley, kissing a guy next to the dumpster they just peed on, and “spilled mouth-jizz.” If she could get away from the provocative “look at me!” style writing, I think it could be something really incredible. Instead, it feels like the Spencer’s Gifts of storytelling. –Kayla Greet (pioneerpress.com)