Joe Galván

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Joe Galván (1984-) is an anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, writer, composer, calligrapher, printmaker and zinester.

He is the author of the zines The Book of Harmonies, Itinerary, For the Boys, Fugue States, the 'biannual Frontera Magazine, the novel Karen et al.: A parable and most recently, the zine series Galván in Portland. Inspired by the composers of the New York School, Galván's work draws on aleatoric and experimental traditions, but also evokes the desolation and social isolation of the author's native South Texas. Andrew Parker of Portland Writers Club zine says of Galván:

"Galván himself is even more cryptic and sometimes comes off as the bitter, jaded and hermetic author that America loves. This is a man who punishes himself by two-hour sessions in the gym, he tells us, followed by late-night binges on ‘ginger ale and tortilla chips’. He believes that tourism, for better or for worse, is the natural extension of colonialism, that thinking badly about your mother will give her cancer, that shopping for items at garage sales or at Goodwill invites misfortune, that people who put wasabi in breakfast tacos ruin ‘the cultural component’ of Mexican food. And as if that isn’t apocalyptic enough, his thoughts on the way to work are about earthquakes swallowing the city of Portland, Oregon whole ‘in a fresh wave down the Willamette that will restore the mouth of the river to a prehistoric cleanliness’. Galván doesn’t so much hate the world he lives in, the world moves on and he refuses to be captive to its illusions, preferring the cold clarity of the simple cultures he loves, and even letting himself feel emotions, like crying to Mexican rancheras or the songs of Amália Rodrigues.”

Working on a low-budget and often taking months or years to complete a single zine, Galván's work spans most of the 2000s. He has appeared in the Canadian zine Stationaery, in the academic literary journal Harbinger and most recently in Portland Writers Club with excerpts of Galván in Portland. Galván mixes ethnographic "thick description" with absurd humor and frequent literary and pop culture references to create a quirky, often profane style that mimics the style of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.] This is especially true in Joe's last two zines, both of which are written like reportage more than a personal zine. Above all, Galván's work stresses individual isolation, confusion or noncooperation with the outside world, and a sense of dread often permeates his fiction works, especially his novel Karen et al.: A parable, which draws both on Galván's individual experiences and as "a casual observer of American culture."

Copies of his zines are in the Multnomah County Library in Portland, The Zine Library of Toronto, the zine library of Salt Lake City and in two distros in San Francisco.

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