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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

'Heartbroken and Horny' zine by Zo Watt


 Received from the author 

From the BLURB:

Heartbroken and Horny is the unnecessary diary of a clingy neurotic who becomes a common whore after getting her heart obliterated by her FRB (First Real Boyfriend).

From pregnancy scares to STIs to getting stood up on Lygon St a 11 o’clock at night, Heartbroken and Horny is a warm, uplifting tale about love lost and new depths of despair found, about self-loathing and shame-eating, about falling for your fuck buddies and having that sentiment never returned.

If you’ve ever been dumped; if you’ve ever been rejected; if you’ve ever reeked of desperation, vodka and cheese-less bean burritos, then this is the zine for you.

Full Disclaimer

‘Heartbroken and Horny’ is a zine, written by one “Zo Watt” (blatantly obvious it’s not her real name – hence the “air-quotes”) I got my hands on this little gem because I have been reading the author behind “Zo Watt” for three years now. We went to Uni together, were in the same writing class and became friends. She was a proud young adult writer with strong (‘stubborn’) ideas about what did and did not constitute ‘good’ YA. She wrote with a first-person voice that was so disarmingly rude, funny and pin-point accurate that even the mature-age students in our class who consistently claimed to not have any opinions about YA/children’s books, would look on her with unbridled envy. I distinctly remember feeling my own green-tinged haze when our teacher (a published author herself) claimed that “Zo” could get away with anything, because her voice was so strong and could carry the reader anywhere.

When I graduated I was upset about not being able to see my friends every day, and getting to live the carefree Uni life (to go to class or listen to the lecture online? Decisions, decisions, decisions) I was also upset that I'd no longer be sitting in weekly writing workshops and listening to “Zo’s” latest manuscript snippets. But since graduating, I have consistently put my hand up whenever she wanted a sounding-board for her latest piece of writing.

And then something happened in “Zo’s” personal life that had a profound impact, and it seemed her only catharsis was to write it down in her snarky, sarcastic, soul-searching way. That she chose to do so in zine-instalments is probably an indication of how slow and bit-by-bit this exorcising process still is for her. But that she has also chosen to put this zine out anonymously is an indication of just how honest she’s being. I am told that part of the necessity for “Zo Watt” is to keep certain people’s identities hidden. Oh dear. . .

Please proceed in an orderly fashion to my review . . . 

‘Heartbroken and Horny’ begins with Zo trawling through internet forums on the subject of; ‘I’m still in love with my boyfriend but I’m no longer sexually attracted to him.’ And that’s how she kinda-sorta-but-not-really breaks up with her beautiful, caring but frustratingly Asexual boyfriend, Simon. Simon is “Zo’s” FBF (First. Real. Boyfriend) and a five-year relationship that started in their teens has been a life-raft for both of them, carrying them into early-20’s bliss, which turns complicatedly sour post-breakup (thanks to that rented apartment that still has six months on the lease, a Nan who has come to adore Simon, and accumulated mutual Facebook friending).

First instalment of the zine deals with “Zo” yo-yoing between wanting to be with Simon because they have a relationship that “transcends sex” (plus, he cooks things other than toast!) or breaking up with him and possibly never finding anyone who ever even comes close to emotionally fulfilling her the way Simon does (but even the sound of his breathing is starting to irritate her). At one point “Zo” muses to Simon that life would be so much easier if he were gay; then they could still have the friendship, without sex (or lack of) complicating things. This statement turns out to be rather pathetically prophetic, and the second instalment of ‘Heartbroken and Horny’ chronicles “Zo’s” slippery slope into singledom.



I can safely say that everything I loved and craved in “Zo’s” workshop writing at uni is present and accounted for in this zine. She writes more pop-culture references than Amy Sherman-Palladino and her squirm-inducing honesty about all things love, sex, and being a 20-something moving back home after a break-up is deliciously and depressingly true. “Zo” is sort of Melbourne’s answer to Lena Dunham for the way she writes candid modern relationships (when Facebook becomes a battleground and status updates are landmines waiting to blow you to smithereens) but also the way she writes about modern Melbourne relationships. Expect some Brunswick hijinks’, St. Kilda sluttiness and to question where all those Safety Houses we learned about as kids have gone?

I will say that while “Zo” was adamantly YA in our writing workshops, ‘Heartbroken and Horny’ is most definitely not for that readership. If anything, ‘Heartbroken and Horny’ is a beautiful example of that new genre beast – ‘New Adult’. It’s these rude and crude, sexually-fuelled explorations that will so appeal to the early-to-mid-20’s readership who are going through the exact same things as “Zo” and Simon – when it’s time to leave behind the neatly uncomplicated feelings of our teens and map the rougher terrain of gay boyfriends, sex minus love and what to do with a six-month lease after break-up.


Zine #2 ends on a wee bit of a cliffhanger. Which is odd, for me. Because I've been treated to a little real-life insight into what came next and I know it gets ruder, cruder and funnier and I can’t wait to read it. It’s not even strange to be reading about the raw exploits of someone I know and call friend – because “Zo” writes with that same snarky, sarcastic, soul-searching that I came to crave during our Uni workshops, and just as our teacher predicted – she can carry the reader anywhere.

I'd love to reveal who “Zo Watt” really is, because she’s really great and ‘Heartbroken and Horny’ proves what I've always known about her, from the moment she first read an extract of her work-in-progress during our writing workshop. But like I said in the beginning, I see this zine as a catharsis and a sort of expelling of certain relationship demons. That’s cool. The day will come when “Zo Watt” breaks from her pseudonym-cocoon and morphs into the Lena Dunham/Diablo Cody writerly butterfly she’s destined to someday be.

5/5

This zine can be snatched up from the following locations:

 

Brunswick Bound (361 Sydney Road Brunswick VIC 3056)

Sticky Institute (10 Campbell Arcade, Degraves Subway Melbourne VIC 3000)

Polyester Books (330 Brunswick Street Fitzroy VIC 3065)

Or you can email "Zo Watt" at what may or may not be a real address: eat_toast@y7mail.com


4 comments:

  1. The thing that stood out to me was the word Cheezly! Is Zo or the main character vegan or veg?

    So not only do I want to read it now to find out, I also want to read it because it sounds like Zo knows how to write a good character with a strong voice. I also love really honest depictions of relationships and sex.

    Since I'm not in Melbtown, do you think it would be ok if I emailed her to see if it's possible to buy a copy from her? Thanks for reviewing this and making me aware of it!

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    Replies
    1. Hey! YES! Zo is vegan in real life. She's so vegan in fact (and I hope she doesn't reprimand me for saying this) but she once had a little online warfare with a YA author who wrote a vegan protagonist who also wore faux-leather. She was very insulted. *That's* how much of a vegan she is.

      Most definitely you should email her - I'll even give her a heads-up to expect a word from you ;)

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    2. Awesome, what a great story! And thanks!! xox

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  2. I heard about this from Mandee over at Vegan Nerds and I love the sound of it! It sounds really unique and super enjoyable, it's just ashame since it sounds like it would be nearly impossible to get my hands on a copy... I read my first ever New Adult last month and it was a disaster so it's good to hear this is a win!

    Great review :)

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