Elevate Difference

Tazewell’s Favorite Eccentric #4

This zine, published in April of 2006, is tiny but powerfully personal. It has 30 pages, and, at only 5½ by 4¼ inches, it’s small enough to fit in a pocket for on-the-go reading.

On the very first page, zinester Sarah Arr! writes, “this issue is a lot more personal than things I’ve previously written,” and adds that she will not give copies to co-workers and casual friends. She observes that her life is not all misery and wretchedness, that she has fun every day and reminds us, “like most perzines, this is an outlet.”

Sarah’s first story, in which she pays homage to “bargaining with a real, live, flesh and blood human,” is about the flea markets in her hometown. The topics of the next few pages include the frustration of not having the right words, envy of thin women, drifting away from friends, being attracted to a guy while loving her girlfriend and a parent’s illness as a reminder of her own mortality.

In the middle of the zine the issues get even more intimate, and the label on page 15 reads, “This may be TRIGGERING.” She writes about her mom’s drug addiction, which led to Sarah being sexually abused as a little girl. After sharing what she calls “possibly the hardest thing that I’ve ever written,” she then tells of her younger brother’s death as a child.

While these issues are in no way happy or upbeat, Sarah tells her distressing stories with honesty and clarity. I appreciate that she is struggling to deal with her past and trying to heal by writing about the painful events. The insight Sarah has given into her harrowing experiences will help me behave more sympathetically towards people I know who have dealt with similar occurrences in their lives.

While this zine is not exactly entertaining, it is thought provoking and well-written. Words can be powerful weapons in the struggle for survival. As Sarah says about the sexual abuse that she experienced: “I write about it because that makes it real. Something that I can understand in words that happened. I can wrap my mind and my mouth around those words and arm myself like a soldier. I can wrap them up into ribbons to give other women so that they know that they’re not alone. That you’ve already lived through it once. We are stronger than the past.”

Written by: Chantel C. Guidry, July 16th 2007