Best Thing I’ve Read Today: “Bulls-eye” by Jac Jemc and other good stuff on the Fanzine

4 Dec

The Fanzine, as usual, has been getting after it pretty hard: Jeff Alessandrelli’s essay about creating in Portland, OR — “what you ‘create’ is going to come down to not the city you live in but the extent of your own personal effort and investment in that effort.” And Daniel Beauregard’s intelligent thoughts on Harmony Korine’s 2009 film, Trash Humpers — “Korine’s film occasionally seems more akin to a series of found footage dreamscapes, void of any overarching narrative, but one can be found–a subtle narrative is threaded throughout Trash Humpers, and it comes together beautifully at the end.”

To go with all this goodness is Jac Jemc’s, “Bulls-eye,” the story of a lonely woman who attends a weekly Bingo night — “Phyllis waited for this night every week. She slogged through her schedule of television shows each evening, drifting off more often than not, left to dream about the resolution of each episode. Thursday nights, though, represented the climax of the week.”

What’s so impressive about this piece is how Jemc draws so much real emotion from Bingo, a game most of us would say is boring as shit to read about, but Jemc is bad ass and makes the readers feel the tension and subtle drama that can come with playing Bingo:

22 was her number and she would prove it. If she won, it was possible that she might avoid the vicious boiling down of her choices for an entire week. She might buy the nicer brand of decaf coffee at the store. She might treat herself to the full rack of ribs from the takeout place on the corner so that she’d have leftovers for lunch the next day. She might sift through the bin at the dollar store and pick out a new pearlescent pink nail polish to cover the white, hard ridges that had started showing up on her nails.

We can hear the creaking chairs in the Bingo hall (a church basement), feel the AC from the vents, hear the daubing of Bingo boards. Jemc makes us understand the protocol for behavior in the Bingo hall and gives us the collective emotion that develops as the game proceeds and how all of that can come to an end when somebody actually wins:

She was also equally embarrassed to call BINGO when it was a legitimate winner; a sadness accompanied the motion to ending a particular game, a sense of letting the rest of the group down, taking away the private hope of the others in the room to bask in her own singular success, one game closer to the end of the night.

Jemc provides a rich portrait of Phyllis, her town and her family while having Phyllis do little more than play Bingo and return home.

Check out more of Jac Jemc bad assness at her website. Buy her books, send her your love and baby teeth.

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