The Austin Chronicle

The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet

Reviewed by Rick Klaw, September 7, 2007, Books

The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet

edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant
Del Rey, 416 pp., $14.95 (paper)

Fanzines emerged out of the 1930s science-fiction fan culture, eventually propagating among such active fandoms as music, role-playing games, and comics. Zines played a pivotal role in the development of new talent often publishing the best and brightest before they were well-known: Ray Bradbury, Greil Marcus, Robert Crumb, and Bruce Sterling, among others. The advent of the Internet ushered in the webzine, seemingly dooming the traditional zine, but experimental, postmodern science-fiction fanzines like Electric Velocipede and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet keep the print form alive and pertinent. The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet reprints the finest fiction, essays, poetry, and other oddities from the zine's first decade.

The first two pieces, written separately by co-editors Kelly Link – "Travels With the Snow Queen," a nonlinear tale of forbidden love – and Gavin J. Grant – his insightful nonfiction exploration "Scotch: An Essay Into a Drink" – quickly establish the tenor both in quality and content for this stunning anthology. Excellent and unconventional pieces abound: Margaret Muirhead's profound Swiftian parody "An Open Letter Concerning Sponsorship"; Sarah Monette's tortured romance "Three Letters From the Queen of Elfland"; Jan Lars Jensen's frightening study of the dangers of television nostalgia, "Happier Days"; Gwenda Bond's twisted Dear Abby columns, "Dear Aunt Gwenda"; and David J. Schwartz's comical letter "The Icthyomancer Writes His Friends With an Account of the Yeti's Birthday Party," to name a few. Interspersed within the stories, the editors sprinkle trivial tidbits about literature, movies, music, and other strangeness.

The compositions appear in order of original publication, creating an odd, uneven flow to the book. Later in the collection, as the editing duo became more comfortable with their craft and their writers, the contributions get stronger. Showcasing a selection of the top new and exciting writers working today, The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet presents a wondrous playground for lovers of experimental and avant-garde literature. If this is the 21st century zine, the form can be taken off the endangered list.

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