This Concordia-based student mag-via-ezine hails itself to be ‘both ironic and sincere, and will take you exactly where you never knew you wanted to go’. It is from this point that the irony, unfortunately, seems to begin. Attempting to be clever and highly stylistic, the mag simply loses its readers to heavy-handed stylistic devices – or worse, to the often close-circuited world of university. The Void is a literary/arts zine primarily focusing on short fiction and showcasing a ‘feature artist’ each issue. While the layout of the site is clear and easy to navigate, the writing, at times, doesn’t quite follow the lead. I’ve always found the problem with university-based mags is that they tend to be a bit convoluted – sacrificing clarity and impact for hyperbole. And I’ll admit I was left a bit confused by the Void. The mag is structured around a different ‘theme’ per issue, the latest being ‘the outlaw issue’. This translates into articles about evil animal folklore, and downloading piracy. With the exception of Philippe Gohier’s piece on Al-Qaeda, the articles fall flat. The discussed-to-death anti-piracy debate is simply rehashed here with surprising restraint (considering the recent new on Sony’s DRM rootkit fiasco) in the article ‘Honour among thieves’.
I was hoping for something more from the fiction section. It started out well, with a promising and entertaining short story experiment of incorporating a pre-selected sentence into a 200 word limit. Unfortunately, the spark died there. ‘Death of a Lounge Detective’ is more of an exhausting rant on the reality short-comings of the show CSI than an actual story. ‘No One Understands Patrick Brownson’ is another attempt at self-referential irony that dies before it can get going. Maybe if we knew Patrick, this would be funny. And therein lies the problem; we don’t, and it isn’t. Sometimes that self-contained world we holed up in for four years doesn’t translate well to the outside world, even when loaded with hyperbole.
There’s a lot of promise to this mag, but it kills itself by trying to be too clever, sacrificing clarity. Reading through letter from the editor, I found lines such as “the imagined clatter of bones echoes maliciously through the metro” or “I take long scented baths … and expect to be translated into heaven on a neon yellow cloud.” If there’s sincerity in these lines, they become lost under their own ambitious weight. If there’s irony, I think it’s buried somewhere in the student office of the Void. Maybe under that heavy thesaurus. (James King)