Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Walking Man"

BECAUSE of the hectic nature of my life trying to survive in the current economic climate, I've been tardy with many of my planned undertakings, including getting my review blog under full steam.

Among the books I have yet to review is Walking Man by Tim W. Brown-- so I'll review it here and now on my main blog which anyway has a bigger audience.

Walking Man is a satirical novel about the "zine" print underground of the last decade; the story of a prototypical zinester named Brian Walker whose DIY publication, appropriately enough, is about walking. Appropriate, as a nod to the quirky essence of DIY with its emphasis on authenticity. The publication is an amalgamous nod to legendary zeens, most reminiscent to me of "Pathetic Life." The character himself is from Midwest "underdog origins":

"--Brian Walker came of age in a time and place where declining expectations comprised the norm."

The novel documents Brian's brief celebrity and subsequent decline. Tim W. Brown pokes fun at the zine scene of the day but at the same time celebrates it, focusing on a variety of crazy personalities and the intramural disputes intrinsic to the scene.

It is, in fact, a history of the zine phenomenon, and explanation of same. THIS IS THE ORIGIN of the Underground Literary Alliance, and the literary Rebellion, to the extent that the six founding members of the ULA were all zeensters who'd discovered one another's work through the networks and review publications Brown ably satirizes.

If I have any quibble with the book-- a minor quibble-- it's that he focuses on the 1989-91 time period, when to me the peak of the phenomenon came four or five years later.

Walking Man is a fun read and great background to underground literature of today.

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1 comment:

Tom Hendricks said...

I got a copy too. I enjoyed the inside stuff about zines, though where he saw fanatical devotion, I saw mostly indifference.
I would have liked it more if it named real zines, Factsheet Five, etc.
Mixed review - but at least it is about zines. Was there a real walking zine?