Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yip!: Walking Man by Tim W. Brown

Walking Man is a novel that poses as the biography of Brian Walker, America's "most famous zine publisher," who publishes a zine about how he loves to walk. As author Tim W. Brown relates Walker's rise in the zine world of the late 1980s/early 1990s, he keeps the humor deadpan, but he can't disguise the fact that this story is a hoot! If one knows anything about the zine scene of that era, it's tempting to read the novel as a roman a clef--for example, Stet, former busboy and the publisher of Buzzboy, starts off as a Dishwasher Pete figure, but then morphs into an R. Seth Friedman figure, who publishes Ned's Feat Live, a Factsheet Fiveesque review zine--but the novel is more concerned with getting the spirit of those times accurately rather than satirizing specific figures. In any case, the zine world of that time was so wacky that one barely needs to satirize it in order to make things comic. Brown was active in the zine scene of that era so he knows his stuff, and he gets all the details right--photocopies, petty postal rivalries, the question of selling out, and, of course, the strange folks driven to publish zines--making Walking Man a very fun read.

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