import_contacts Barbed Wire

reviewed by Richard Luck

Published in Issue No. 9 ~ October, 1997

Editor Paul Levine touts his creation, Barbed Wire, as being “Vancouver’s only FREE webzine with a COMPLETE money-back guarantee,” but there’s so much more to this delectable treat than that. To start with, when you name an issue “First Fuck / Worst Fuck” you can rest assured that most passersby are either going to run in the opposite direction, their delicate principles clutched tightly to their chest, or they’re going to stop, look around, and see what all the hubbub is about.
No one will pass without taking notice. After all, it’s human nature to be inexplicably drawn towards the unknown, to be curious of the disquieting. The same thing that causes motorists to slow when passing a grisly freeway accident converts accidental readers into Barbed Wire fanatics.

Because of its precarious position, Barbed Wire has the dubious honor of being both rejected by the screens of mainstream surfers, while at the same time possessing a loyal cult following of both writers and readers, its numbers steadily increasing. This zine isn’t about telling you the story you want to hear – this isn’t Goldilocks and the Three Bears, kiddies – but about pressing a sharp thorn against your skin, urging you to push aside the irritation of your preconceptions and see what bleeds beneath. And when you do, you’ll be surprised. Something beautiful and personal has bloomed where before you thought you saw only a scab.

As of this printing, the editor was open to reading unsolicited submissions, but I’d suggest you read several back issues before you go sending in the last four chapters of your as-yet unfinished novel. They don’t print poetry, and their fiction selections are pretty thin. The majority of the work in the zine seems to be biographical commentary – some writer telling a really interesting story about how he got fucked over by some guy he didn’t know, in some town he’d never been in before, and all because he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, well, that’s one of the pieces, but you get the picture. If in doubt, email the editor, Paul Levine, at:

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Richard Luck is the Founder and Technical Director for Pif Magazine.