Litzine, Heather Joan Tam, 19 pgs, heatherjoantam.com, no price listed
For those of us who like to peruse the odd zine during our morning shower, Tam has taken the liberty of encasing her publication in a block of soap and silicone. The zine itself, entitled HONEYMOON, is an unadorned short story told in the first person. It follows a nameless newlywed woman, outlining her stay with foreign in-laws and a day-trip through a system of caves.
This narrative cannot be discussed, however, without considering the strange material form in which it appears. I have to say I struggled to find a reason for HONEYMOON’s encasement in translucent soap, as if it were a Jurassic-era mosquito caught in amber. Tam’s narration connects every detail of its protagonist’s experience to history-at large, so that a cavern stands in reflection to Earth’s continental drift, and a church door echoes the long-forgotten skirmish fought nearby. Perhaps the reader’s obligation to dig this zine from its waxy confines is a kind of thematic nod to a literary time-capsule, but it seems more likely that the zine was baked into soap simply because very few other zines — to my knowledge — have been baked into soap.
The text itself is sombre, even despite its grand connections between honeymoon and ancient history. Tam’s words build momentum, scrape out a landscape, bringing about passages like “Clinking porcelain intersperses with bits and pieces of family histories and recalled anecdotes”, or “The bathwater drains, flowing into Bridgwater Bay and then into the sea, the one that had collected water from that storm whose clouds comprised evaporation from the iceberg whose core froze from the water in this ocean into which that river empties”. It’s a little wordy when printed out of context, but striking enough for me to forgive the mess of soap and string suddenly strewn about my desk. (Joel W. Vaughan)