There are two types of busy writers: Type One writes without distraction, Type Two gets distracted leading to a case of writer’s funk or hit-and-miss writing. Kate Haas is busy writer Type Two in the latest issue of Miranda: motherhood and other adventures, a digest of family highlights, shortcomings and mom fashion.
It took a year for Haas — an established writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon — to compile seven short essays for the follow-up to Miranda issue 20, released in 2010. Issue 21 presents an assortment of anecdotes where some stories are more meh than others.
In “So You Want to Build a Sukkah,” Haas recounts her family’s sukkah shelter-building experience for the Jewish harvest festival Sukkot. The three-page story is educational at best, lacking warmth due to its second- person narrative: “You lay hazel breaches and stalks of bamboo on the roof… you decide to delay putting up the walls… your family sits at the dining room table, making popcorn strings…” In “Promotion,” Miranda’s first story, Haas attends her son’s fifth grade graduation and dotes on herself more than him. For traditionalists who read zines from front to back, it takes 11 pages to get to a sincere story in this issue of Miranda. In “Once a Narnian,” Haas rekindles and defends her childhood fondness for The Chronicles of Narnia, now as a mom reading aloud to her sons. Skip ahead seven more pages to “The Motel of Lost Companions: The Secret Life” and Haas shares how a fortuitous friendship filled with first-time mama woes and a stash of dark chocolate ended too soon. These
two stories are Miranda’s gems. Peppered throughout Miranda’s compendium are two booklists (one for grown-ups, the other for kids), a sewing tip for hip jeans and a recipe for hamentashen. Haas also enlists her husband Bruce to dot the 28-page black and white zine with homey sketches and doodles. The resulting mini comic starring “Crafty Jewish Mother” and “dorky accoutrements circa 1978” are
too cute for words. Haas admits she’s thought about
quitting Miranda, which may explain the mediocrity of this comeback issue. What Haas doesn’t acknowledge – at least to her readers – is that the act of resuscitating a zine doesn’t always bring it back to life. Three dollars for a new issue is a steep price to pay for Miranda’s motherhood; and no one likes being shortchanged. However “The Motel of Lost Companions” has been a recurring feature in Miranda and could be Miranda’s rebirth. (Nicole Morales)
Zine, issue 21, Kate Haas, katehaas.com, $3 US