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$0.99, 8” x 5”, newsprint, 75 pgs.

By Sean Arenas
Monday, July 27 2015

For the sake of transparency, I proofed This Is Not a Camera. Although that makes me biased, reading and re-reading Jim Ruland’s writing only increased my appreciation of his irony-laden voice and scalpel-precise style. Ruland worked at an Indian casino for nearly six years and each piece in this zine is a report from the frontline. The stories explore the often seedy underbelly and backstage goings-on of casino life, or, as Ruland puts it, “Who hasn’t wanted to peek at the machinery behind the scenery at the amusement park?” Ruland nods to Wallace Stevens on “13 Ways of Looking at a Slot Machine,” which is my favorite story in the collection, as each paragraph nails the lack of system involved in striking it rich at slots. The story sums up the collection pretty well: Although gambling rarely makes practical sense (“gamblers are all about risk”), “Thunderclap Casino” is a microcosm of our adrenaline-addicted society and a ripe metaphor for the absurdities and lack of logic in daily existence. As for the winners, those who take home the big jackpots after hours (and sometimes days) of warming a seat, well, “It’s enough to understand their lives don’t change, that winning changes nothing. The rest I don’t want to know.” Well put, Jim. –Sean Arenas (Vermin Enterprises, vermin.bigcartel.com/product/this-is-not-a-camera)

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