“Life, Death, Love, & ‘All of the Above’”
by Meredith Wallace. 40 pg., 1/2 letter, $4.
You can buy it directly from Meredith here;
I bought my copy from Fight Boredom Distro.
“Life, Death, Love, & ‘All of the Above’” is a artfully designed personal zine by Meredith Wallace, a twenty-three year old writer from Los Angeles. It’s a doubly intense and intimate look at a year in her life since she recounts both falling in love with someone, and helping that person through his diagnosis with and treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML).
The zine is divided into three sections: the first recounts the beginnings of their relationship, the second, his diagnosis, and the third brings us up to the present day, where she reveals that, fortunately, her boyfriend has since recovered. Wallace’s writing is engaging, and by the time you get to the end it is a relief to hear that her boyfriend is well.
Wallace finds out about her partner’s cancer the day after she hands in her final college paper, so the story is also a coming of age tale of sorts, in which she’s faced with unanticipated challenges and overwhelming feelings. We rarely get to come of age in exactly the ways we’d have chosen, and becoming an adult is as much about becoming vulnerable to all kinds of horrors as it is about becoming master of one’s own destiny.
The zine is written in second person, addressed to Wallace’s partner, which I found kind of distracting. The story is already so intimate, with so much vulnerability and sex and tears, that one already kind of feels like a voyeur. In second person, it seems like a love letter through which the reader is snooping.
One reason I found this zine especially interesting is because my day job consists in doing administrative work around stem cell transplants. For people who aren’t as lucky as Wallace’s boyfriend in responding to drug treatment, stem cell transplants can be a last-ditch solution. I spend eight hours a day doing data entry and sending emails and faxes, trying to help match patients and donors, but I will never meet any of them or know much of anything about what their lives are like. This zine helped me out by giving a glimpse into what it’s like for people diagnosed with cancer and the people who care about them.
- Lily Pepper