With a rambling, at times almost free associative approach, this agnostic zine tends not only toward uncertainty but — less rewardingly — thematic inconsistency. It is made up of autobiographical digressions and fictional vignettes, as well as what seems like an occasionally muddled combination of the two. Except when written by a guest author, these sketches are untitled and, though they are broken up by images, they can seem to blend into each other. Like Morris, the guest authors can try too hard to be engaging: “The amount of manure that has tumbled out of my round face is enough to fertilize acres of farmland.” A sentence like this goes from lively to grating in the time it takes to read it.
Morris fares far better when he sticks to what emerges as a loose mandate: a kind of post-religious thinking-through of issues that unavoidably intersect with Christianity. Which is to say that Welcome to Flavor Country is a fundamentally (though by no means fundamentalist) Christian zine, a gentle probing of the status quo.
As with all independent media that question mainstream values, the reader is often left wondering about the intended audience — those most likely to buy zines will not find these thoughts on Christianity revelatory. Is Morris just thinking out loud?
The zine is at its best when it compiles the thoughts of others. In #19, Morris asks the alumni of a Christian university — who have since “become atheists or agnostics” — about their faith. The questionnaire format leads to some inevitable repetitiveness, but the answers, nevertheless, offer flashes of insight about guilt, regret and belief. (Daniel Marrone)
Zine, #19 & #20, Kurt Morris, 14 Taft St. #3, Dorchester, MA, 02125, USA, [email protected]