Zine Review: Susie is a Robot #3

15 October 2008

Zine - Susie is a Robot #3

You’ll need to set aside some time to read Susie is a Robot #3. I tried to read it in fits and starts, pulling it out of my jacket pocket whenever I had a few minutes to kill, but it didn’t work; it just meant confusion and backtracking. When I started again and read it properly, the pieces fell into place.

It’s the structure that requires concentration: the zine runs for over 100 pages, spans—what, 20 years?, and jumps backwards and forwards without obvious signposting. This is jarring but makes perfect sense. It mimics LB’s thoughts and memories, as she grapples with the fallout from an assault by her partner, and tries to learn from how she and her brothers dealt with their abusive childhood.

LB’s writing is hardboiled, more Dashiell Hammett than Raymond Chandler:

i sat in a train car alone. lights passed, stations waved. a man entered and i heard the familiar sound of a beer can opening. hopefully a tall boy.

the tunnel was empty. i lugged an oversized winter coat, hung over my shoulder, remembering the days i pretended to be a hobo. a runaway child with a blanket tied to a stick and a can of soup as its only contents. my legs made it to my tree in the front yard and i hid until no one came looking for me.

the tree is gone now. my house is gone.

And this is definitely a noir story, with the faint light of friendship and hope set against the thick darkness of violence and despair. LB explores “[t]he overlooked gray” between victim and attacker, and wants to know “[h]ow I reviled my childhood abusers … but I can push my lover when I am drunk”.

Like the best noir tales, Susie is a Robot #3 describes the struggle of a decent protaganist to keep their head above water, against the drag of by the murky currents:

sometimes there are days like this that we get through. we always do. i know we’re going to make it. i swear.

You want them to make it—you know maybe they won’t, maybe they can’t. But you want them to escape.

LB, Susie is a Robot #3, 1/4 size, 104 pages. Available from Paper Trail and Stranger Danger.

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