“Syndicate Product 24” provides a middling reading experience

Syndicate Product 24: Unrecommended Reading

Zine, A. j. Michel (ed.), 24 pgs, Syndicate Product, syndprod.etsy.com, $3USD

It’s a great deal easier to discuss the things one hates than it is to discuss the things one loves. This fact is no surprise to A.j. Michel or his zine’s nine contributors. Unrecommended Reading is interested in low-hanging fruit and the catharsis that comes with tearing up a piece of art dear to its author.

Michel’s reviewers pull few punches. Take, for instance, Kathy Moseley’s review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which concludes, “Now I will take this book’s advice and discard it because the only thing it sparks is aggravation,” or the review of 1984 by accomplished zine librarian Jenna Freedman. She wonders “why even a sexpot like Julia would be interested in such a schmoe as Winston. And why would Big Brother care enough about him to ‘rehabilitate’ him? Who does Orwell think he is?”

Karma would dictate that it’s this review’s duty to shred this zine to pieces, but in actuality the reading experience it provides is more middling than anything else. Hate-writing is a satisfying exercise, but reading that hate-writing easily grows tiresome. The reviews printed in Unrecommended Reading are enjoyable insomuch as their authors don’t take the prompt too seriously. It is indeed fun to watch a mob jump on Sarai Walker’s Dietland (a text taken to task by more than one reviewer), but that righteous indignation is probably a personal impulse I should resist.