Love your work, Childs: a review

Holly Childs' workI have come across some writing that made me think ‘I have never come across anything like this before,’ and then I thought about thinking that and the closest comparison I could come to was Richard Brautigan. But it’s not that, either. Because it’s written by a woman, is Antipodean and totally twenty-first century.

I am a sheltered sort of person in the great scheme of avant-garde literature and do not doubt that there is a great swathe of writers experimenting with language and the digital age, with stream of consciousness and pithy, well-crafted satire and with self-publishing in the professionally designed-yet-home-created zine. It is, however, this work particularly that I have, blessedly, been introduced to and, at present, is my only reference point.

What is this writing of which I speak?moving things around AKA twisted bathers straps and HEART RENDERING IMAGE by Holly Childs.

Childs experiments with such practices as the deconstruction of text and such ideas as art and writing and communication and relationships and:

– travel (through internet + planes, sometimes also walking)

But the really exciting thing is she does it well.

moving things around AKA twisted bathers straps is a collection of ‘Little tiny discrete stories…’ that seem to be ‘hoping for the best, and expecting the worst’. The zine manages a sense of the whole, which makes it satisfying. It is, among other things:

An exhortation to sanity:

NOW is NOT the time to stop DREAMING. In fact, NOW is the time to CONTINUE DREAMING

A warning:

Expect the music to get WEIRDER, HARDER, AND MORE NINTH EYE.
Starting off with our half-hour classical music session when the clubs reopen.

A message of hope:

Using my keyboard is one of the only things I can do when I’ve painted my nails. Maybe using the keyboard isn’t even a real thing. When the collapse happens, there might not be computers. I think it’s funny that the right hand paints onto the left nails and vice versa. The hand with no skills gets the better nailpolish. When the collapse happens, maybe we won’t have nailplates anymore.


Angelina Jolie is working at Valleygirl and wearing an orange crepe dress, complaining about the fishnets in her head that leave nothing to the imagination, and everyone was clapping her because she’d got a regular job.

HEART RENDERING IMAGE is a ‘TOTAL READ’ and kinda summed up by the following excerpt:

words that define how things are seen
words as lens filters, not words that define
follow characters on twitter as strings
a film as a blob
surf the movie on strings
paste the way people dream
accent and body-language
desktop, files, analogies
the sun just set
facial expression and body language and accent as
read words emotionally and abstractly

read lots of different ways

Childs experiments with conventions of layout and form. Throughout the journey there is a questioning, a commentary and a critique of the ‘digital age’ and its impact on art, life and dreams. Childs also takes a hefty swipe at materialism and capitalism – music to my eyes.

At heart, both zines seem to me to be confident of the end of the world as we know it, while shouting out the shock of the new. There’s something both youthful and quirky represented here – but it’s powerful quirk and should we ignore it, perhaps we ignore it at our peril.

Child’s work is available at Sticky and from the author. (Zine design: Oliver of the sky.)

Clare Strahan

Clare Strahan is a two-time novelist with Allen & Unwin publishers, long-ago contributing editor to Overland, and teaches in the RMIT Professional Writing & Editing Associate Degree.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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