Chain Letter Short Story Project #3
Zine, Jessica Lewis, 16 pgs, papertraildiary.com, $3
Ever had a pen pal, pal? Low-key miss chain letters?
If you’re a zine person, chances are you’re at least a bit fond of the mail. Zinester Jessica Lewis, one third of the long-running Static Zine, sure is. Lewis has always been a gentle champion of zine and zine-adjacent traditions, including the post. For a few years she organized this tag-team story, written collaboratively via snail mail — this zine documents and shares one such work, its content begun by Lewis in Toronto, then travelling to contacts in Bovenkarspel, Netherlands; Chestertown, Maryland and Black Diamond, Alberta, before touching down once again in Toronto.
I won’t give away too many clues to the narrative, but the short version is the zine is about somebody who dies, and the continued lives of her belongings once she’s passed on to the afterworld. Not surprisingly, the tone and tale shifts a few times as it passes between authors. Each one gives a fresh gloss to the story, though their voices is fairly consistent. The tone in each slice registers as what you might expect from a person who would write a short story via mail.
It’s a fun exercise in spite of the death stuff, and a nice unearthing of a kind of artistry that many might assume to be dead.