I have just encountered issue #24 of La Petite Zine, an online literary magazine that has been running for over a decade. This longitude is quickly apparent when you enter the unusually user-friendly website. I mean by this that, as a reader, you have the opportunity to pick an individual author from the table of content at whim and then peruse through the magazine by clicking ‘next’ if you so desire. This seems terribly obvious and un-extraordinary but having waded through other online magazines that dump an issue unto a single, very long page, with no summary of content, this ease is really refreshing.
The content is eclectic in style and subject matter, with petite prose and poetry rustling together. It could be summarized on the whole as being playful. In terms of subject, David Schumate’s funambules towards poetry with his sketches on Mariachis or race-coding at school, Jennifer Gravley explores the notion of living in a vegetable whilst Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz’s ‘Close out Sale’ links her unsatisfying wardrobe to the crisis of growing up:
‘These are the days your shoes dissolve in the rain,
the days your boss asks if that’s a hole in your pants
and you don’t even have to look down to confirm.
These are the days you pin a poem to the page
just to see it stare back at you, gasping for air.’
Stylistically, Doug Draime’s ‘I Saw You’ is the only image poem, a neat musing on perception and missed opportunities. The experimenting in this issue is overall more sound-related. Sheera Talpaz carves echo chambers with homophones or manipulates stutters:
‘If you don’t know what to do, hand a scalpel
to a child. Slur to your why-wife.’
A similar approach to sound is taken by Denise Duhamel in ‘Third Wave Haiku’ :
‘I lingered in my lingerie
Playfulness too in this issue comes from trying to make the familiar strange: David Trinidad for instance summarizes an imaginary first season of the Patty Duke show, exposing the plots that have become so habitual in sitcoms. Megin Jimenez takes other familiar territory in ‘Copy Writer’ and contorts it:
‘I meant to follow-up on the proposal to follow through on following one’s heart, but had to wrap up the project under wraps, an untitled document. ‘
Jason Koo’s ‘Sent Dad a Golf Trunk Organizer’ takes another monotonous activity, to-do lists, and manages to raise its level:
‘ I am listing things in the past now, though this list is broken
all over my notebook—Get a list trunk organizer—
so leafing through it is like finding little pieces of myself
crumbled off from where a tire had smashed through
and left me printed zigzagged cracking on the ground.
I don’t know where I am. And in the eyes of my friends,
a flicker of difference, as if they long for the days
when they didn’t have to talk to such well-pressed debris’
Issue #24 of La Petite Zine is a bijou of an online magazine, easy to read in content as well as form. It’s neither pretentious nor dense, it won’t have you reaching for a dictionary, but it would be demeaning to call it simply popular or visceral, it is not quite one or the other: it is an entertainer brandishing a letter-opener.