A new review of my new book All I Want to Do is Live

“Something I always liked about Trace Ramsey’s zines (Quitter and Lasterday are the ones I’ve read) is how satisfying they are as objects. Whether it’s the transparency cover of Q9 illustrating a broken arm beside one on the mend wrapping the pages of a story in part about breaking & healing, or the literal unfolding of a 4-part mini-enveloped story in Lasterday, they have a certain thoughtful Pop quality about them that might get lost in translation from medium to medium. Like, the writing would transfer whether it was in a homemade photocopied pamphlet or online or in a bound anthology because Trace is a very good writer, but something else might get lost or left behind. I don’t know what that ‘something else’ is exactly (an expression of personality? a part of love? residue from the toil of making things on your own?), and it’s different for everyone, but I like finding it in various strangers’ zines. You don’t know that person, necessarily (you might FEEL like you know them though, right?), but you get a sense of that person. And I love that. It’s almost a texture. It’s why I hold on and add to a box of relatively cheaply made zines from over the years even though I’ve moved so many times it’d be easier to ditch ((and I’ve not found a good way to display them – they don’t have spines; clipped to wires gets cumbersome if they’re heavy; my tiny apartment cant really hold a good front facing shelf, and even if it could most of the cover gets obscured. It’s like they’re these little secrets, half hidden, deeply impactful non serious/life verifying trinkets I keep in a box for now). Definitely it’s the biggest reason why I like zines as an art form.

ALL I WANT TO DO IS LIVE is a bound book, no doubt, from a Press (Pioneers Press), but it isn’t a memoir, even though it consists of recollected stories from the author’s childhood and adulthood. It isn’t a bible. It isn’t a zine, or a collection of zine greatest hits, though it is in part put together from some of Trace’s zines. There are interviews, photographs, poems, flashes, comix, essays in various & repeating versions of draft (which was kind of cool to see how a story’s impact changes if it’s told differently). By the end I felt connected to the author’s experiences, through this sort of collage of expressions***, maybe in a way that was better than simply a collection of essays. Is that what creative nonfiction is? I’m okay with being thought of as dumb, I have no idea to be honest, but I like how this book pushes the boundaries out on what autobiography, memoir and perzine can accomplish. I hope to see more of this kind of re-imagining of accepted forms. New kinds of fictions too, new communications. And I look forward to reading more from Trace, in any form.

***How the poem Baby #2 enhances rather than dilutes the excellent essay Farthing Street; How the insight in some of the interview answers allow a perspective that a narrator cannot formally reveal; etc.”