This may shock some of y'all, but I don't always love zine books, that is zines issues collected or even somewhat repackaged. Exceptions include Zine: How I Spent Six Years of My Life in the Underground and Finally...Found Myself...I Think by Pagan Kennedy and Pete Jordan's Dishwasher. Zines are meant to be read episodically; there needs to be some time between issues. I also don't think they all clean up well. They don't all belong in book form, all neatly bound and with consistent margins. I felt the same way about just about every show I worked on at the Public Theater that transferred to Broadway. The shows lost their intimacy in a large house with high ticket prices. Give me a $2 zine over a packaged anthology or a $10 black box play over a spectacular production with moving scenery every time!
I preface my review of Nicole Chaison's Passion to let you know where I'm coming from. I wanted to love it, but I didn't. I liked it, and I bet if I read the zine versions of her stories, I'd love them. One thing I really admire about the book, that I suspect isn't present in her zines is the illuminated manuscript approach, even though I found it confusing at first. Each page consists of minicomics illustrations on the side and text in the center. My problem was that I didn't know what to read first. I eventually found that it was better to read the text and then the art, but sometimes that meant the footnotes would be out of order. Yes, I said footnotes, an element that I found endearing.
Even though I'm not 100% passionate about The Passion, I would still recommend it to parents and zine fans, with a couple of provisos, one of them being the whole zines are not books thing. The other is that I thought about buying a copy for a friend who just gave birth to her second child, but the portrait of life with two kids is a little too . . . vivid . . . I think for someone who has yet to experience it for herself. I would totally give it to someone whose kids are already at each others' throats, and who has already made piece with the fighting, and the mess, and the lack of personal space.
All in all, while this is not an out and out rave, I do admire Chaison's heroic tales and hope other women will find as innovative ways to share theirs.