LATE BIRTHDAY PRESENT, THE, $3, 5½” x 8½”, 55 pgs.

I can’t tell if this is fiction or a real story with some elephant-sized embellishments, but in a basic sense, Sean’s zine is about a dude named Sean dealing with the loss of his best friend who died of an overdose—and perhaps the bigger picture is about trying to live with and love people who suffer from addiction— which seems like an undervalued conversation that I wish more writers engaged with. The title refers to one of Sean’s buddies, this guy Jessie, and Jessie’s young friend and birthday boy, Mike. It turns out Jessie missed Mike’s big day, but his late present, enacted by Sean, is to take Mike to the circus. They want to see the elephants on their last performance. Sean’s zine makes for a good read—a bit zany like Richard Brautigan with his crazy similes and absurd topics of conversation (there’s a recurring gag with a Tommy Bahama shirt), but the narrator is never too far from laying on the heavy stuff and reminding the reader that all this craziness—heavy boozing and rambling around in his truck high as a kite—has been a way of grappling with one friend’s death and another’s slide into serious addiction. What else can I tell you? Well, they steal an elephant. Bonus point for all the Crimpshrine references. –Jim Joyce (Sean Dunne, AN4246, PO Box 905, Avenal, CA 93204)