Zine Review: How To Be Alone 6.1

How To Be Alone 6.1
Bastian Fox Phelan
bastianfoxphelan.com

I was not at all prepared for this zine.

How To Be Alone 6.1 is a zine by Bastian Fox Phelan about Bastian’s life. This edition follows Bastian’s thoughts about the world, writing in different environments, the importance of a writing routine, and finding one’s voice – in more ways than one.

Before I’d even read the zine, I’d jotted down the note that I enjoyed the visual pun on the cover – whether it was intended or not. How to “bee” alone, eh? Clever. Now that I’ve read it, I realise there is so much more depth and thoughtfulness in the choice and how much meaning it has to the content inside. Do I know if Bastian thought that much about it? No, but the depth of meaning in things is often left to be found by the reader rather than intentionally created by the author.

Reading this zine was, for me, like listening to a song I’d never heard before. It lured me in with soft, beautiful melodies and made me feel comfortable. With that comfort, I let my guard down. When the crescendo of conflict of hurt and pain came later in the song, I was completely unprepared and swimming with different feelings that, even days later, I’m still sorting out. But, like a truly good song, and like a truly good tale reads, it all came back to the melodies it started with but now with a different view.

Even when I am berating myself for not doing it, I do like to read about writers and their writing. I liked reading about how Bastian discovered the personal importance of creating and sticking to a writing routine (even as something deep within me rebelled at the thought of applying one to my own life).

I love how easily writing about writing transitioned to finding one’s voice – an important aspect for writers that took on a new meaning when Bastian found the courage and the voice to confront those who are rude and mean just because Bastian doesn’t follow their ideas of what “should” be. It hurt to read about what other people thought was okay but was absolutely not. But those feelings were soothed by my admiration of Bastian for standing up in the face of others’ ignorance and cruelty.

Though small in the grand scheme of things, it was also lovely to read that I am not alone in my occasional rescue of tiny creatures. It was also a lovely image to start with and come back to at the end.

How To Be Alone 6.1 is, for me, a zine that requires more reading and further contemplation. Bastian’s writing voice is beautiful, and I will definitely be tracking down other zines in this series.

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