by Jan Zauha
Zines--those too cool, garage-beget magazines on photocopied pages--were once the
lonely haven of the habitually hip. Not so anymore. Now you too can get a daily dose of
soul cleansing, cutting edge poetry, short stories, diatribe, or other less identifiable
genres of creative writing--without even knowing any struggling artists. Literary ezines
on the Web are teaming with refreshing new writers flexing their muscles, offering sure
evidence that the cyber revolution has not meant the death of all things literate or
literary. Quite the contrary.
The uninitiated can begin by exploring The Book of Zines to find out exactly what a "zine" is ("they're about strangeness but since it's
usually happening somewhere else you're kind of relieved"); uncover their history (they
are NOT the offspring of Newsweek); or locate stashes of them (both ezines and old zines).
If you want to experience zines in paper, you'll find collections as surprisingly close
as the University of Montana's Mansfield Library. If you want to dive directly into the literary ezine scene on the Web, browse the Electric Pen's directory by title or genre. Current title count in this directory is more than 460 with new titles
added on a daily basis.
Literary ezines range from tame to utterly bizarre and everything in between. On the
tame end these publications are interesting, sometimes provocative, and fairly slick. The Blue Moon Review fits into this category.
"Quietly publishing the Internet's best writing since 1994," the BMR features fiction,
poetry, hypermedia and audio productions of high quality. A more provocative ezine with
its roots in the print world (since abandoned) is Andrei Codrescu's Exquisite Corpse. Titles devoted less to commentary and more to
single-genre content include Zoetrope: All-Story, a monthly compilation of short stories that "explores the intersection of fiction and film." InterText is a quarterly fiction ezine, published
continuously on the Internet since 1991. These all-fiction ezines hark back to the days
of the pulp fiction serials, offering affordable food for the starving reader.
Move into the bizarre end of the ezine spectrum with Zug,
a comedy title complete with prescriptive pranks. Or try Bluesy; but be warned: "use of this website may cause side effects, such as nausea,
dizziness, impetigoŠ" Chihuahuaboy proudly proclaims
itself "the worst humor and satire zine ever written," and features cruel poetry and the
"2001 Big & Dumb Year in Review." Happy Woman provides a welcome parody of women's magazines every Friday.
Although possibly the most entertaining of all ezines, the literary pubs are, of course,
not the only online zines around. See the Ezine Directory for a list of other subjects. The unending beauty of the Web is
that there is room on it for all kinds of writing, including, possibly, your own.
For help locating additional ezines, call or stop in at the Renne Library reference desk.
If you find Web sites that you think might be of interest to the MSU community, please
send me an e-mail message at email@example.com.
Jan Zauha is the reference team leader at the MSU Libraries.