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Perzines can be tricky. The author has to figure out which parts of his or her soul would be interesting to a stranger. The best zines in this genre are written on universal themes and cause the reader to relate to the experience of the author. Alex Wrekk does just that in her meditation on the death and destruction of her marriage, mapping out the last throes of a relationship based around power struggle and manipulation. It’s a ragged, honest, searing journey, and may prove to be painful to those that have been there before.

The saving grace of this issue of Brainscan is that it never becomes about condemning Wrekk’s ex outright. She takes the time to analyze his character, to give him the benefit of the doubt, and in the process she illustrates not only how many ways there are to excuse this kind of behaviour, but also how easy it is to fall into it yourself. She goes as far as asking the readers to take a step back and make sure they’re not just as guilty as he was.

Her main misstep is going on for too long and in too great detail. Near the end, when she shares with the reader her psychoanalyst’s brilliant assessment of her trembling lower lip, you may start to wonder if this is simply more personal information than the story needs. This problem aside, Irreconcilable Differences is a searching, haunting and enlightening zine with more than enough truth and pathos to recommend it to everyone, from the hurting to the merely curious. (J. Blackmore)

Perzine, Alex Wrekk, issue 21, $3.00 US, Alex Wrekk, 809 N Shaver St., Portland OR 97227, USA,

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