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Quitter: Good Luck Not Dying

Zine, Trace Ramsey, 64 pgs, Pioneers Press, pioneerspress.com, $6

Trace Ramsey’s Quitter zine is still being produced — in defiance of its name — 12 years after it started. Good Luck Not Dying collects the first six editions in a quarter-size paperback.

With several issues side by side, it’s easy to see how both the zine and Ramsey’s writing evolved over the better part of a decade. Self-deprecation ran rampant in the beginning. He even calls himself a “prick of misery” at one point. The use of unnecessarily complicated language went unchecked as well: as he shuffles through a line-up for a pretzel, his blood-sugar low, he describes his “knee generators” starting, his legs filled with “weak blood picking up the tailings of diminishing pancreas secretions.”

Quitter is typically part manifesto and part memoir (and always high on melodrama). Issues 1–6 saw Ramsey repeatedly rail against The Man, capitalism, factory farming — the usual suspects. He decried the loss of honeybees and wetlands. The pointed angst was likely appropriate for the time in which it was written, but today we’re overloaded with such sentiments (as necessary as they are).

It’s as a memoirist that Ramsey really shines as a writer, and the protest starts to give way to this side of his writing as the issues progress. His prose also loses much of its pretentiousness, as well, when he’s lost in reverie. Amidst all the grave topics he tackles in these zines, his most poignant essay is about penis doodles and a second-grade fistfight. (Scott Bryson)

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