If you love books and/or zines and/or fashion analysis and/or fancy binding and/or letter press and/or library search results and/or math theory and/or French films and literature and/or Red Pandas and/or original illustrations and/or cookie recipes and/or whatever other crazy things are competing to get out of book artist Emily K. Larned's head and fingers, then you will find something to go gaga over in her zine series Parfait.
I must warn you that the following review is as gushy a thing as I have ever written. If the idea of my blasé self losing control like that makes you uncomfortable, do not read on!
You would think after reading 800 or more zines in my lifetime that I'd be jaded, impossible to thrill when it comes to zine consumption. I might have thought so too, until I got my paws on issues 2 and 3 of Parfait.
No. 2, which I called "It's nice" because of the back cover, so that I could catalog it as a monograph and therefore include the table of contents, is full of clever miscellanea about mid-twentieth century pop culture. Of course being published by EKL means that it's also got fancy Coptic binding and a letter press cover. There's just something utterly outrageous (in a good way) with Emily's biographical profile of a math theorist following a description of Red Panda, following a cookie recipe, following a wistul essay about a young woman, Paul McCartney, Woodstock, and remembered youth. And again, because Emily is an artist and zine veteran of at least fifteen years, the clip art is well chosen, the photographs look good, and the overall aesthetic has that same intelligent but teasing quality as the zine's contents.
However, it was no. 3, "Parfait/Barfait" that really killed me. It starts out with fashion analysis of Edward Gorey (I had no idea about the fur, honestly), 1976 denimware, an absolute style genius 1962 bad boy, Alexander Dumas, a cartoon, a Japanese fashionista, and a Red Cross dog. I just don't know how to convey how funny this is. She follows that with reviews of out of print books she's bought at various tag sales, including Celebrity Needlepoint. Turns out Ann B. Davis was quite crafty!
But as in love as I was with this zine from the first page, I had no idea that it contained screen shots of library search results, for words like "is" and phrases like "who are." Oh. My. Dog. Emily knows the way to a library girl's heart, she does!
I'm tempted to tell you every little thing I loved, but I will restrain myself, because I really want you to buy or borrow a copy. The last thing I'll say is that in the Barfait side of Parfait/Barfait, Emily provides her unrecommendations, "because some things and admittedly, very tiny, nit-picky things not important things just tiny thing like that above typeface are aggressively obnoxious and people need to know." The first section, "Books masquerading as books you want" appealed to my easily crushed book lover's heart. It was followed with some short pieces critiquing ads for their commodifying, coopting ways.
Art, books, criticism, pop culture, libraries, politics--there is so much to love in this zine I almost can't handle it!
When we're not ambivalent, how staggeringly particular we can be. #2, 2005, p. 76.
At the very same booksale you also bought Madame Bovary. You love this book. It is due for a reread. But then upon close inspection later, you find that this edition was "edited" by the translator! Jesus. There's five critical essays tacked onto the end in addition to the lengthy introduction and yet the translator actually took AWAY from the original text? Oh, I'm sorry, did YOU Mr. Translator labour seven hours a day on one paragraph like our pal Gustave? You didn't? Then don't fucking EDIT his work.
You become really rather irrationally upset about this. Like it was morally wrong of these books to be donated to the library booksale so some poor soul such as yourself would buy these lousy editions, ignorant of their inauthenticity. Like, no doubt the person who originally owned these books was duped by them too, and so got rid of them by donation. When in fact you kind of feel like they should have been THROWN OUT. They're broken. They're malfunctioning books. So you're going to throw them out, right? If that is what you think their deserved fate to be? Trash? Book in trash? Um, gosh. Of course not. You'll just donate them... to the Salvation Army. What sort of horrible person would throw out a book? #3, 2007, p. 67