Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Tanya Whiton

Weird Animals

No longer a subscriber to my local paper, an ever-thinner tabloid of familial violence and budget cuts (we are too poor here to do anything but murder our mothers and fathers), I recently turned to Google News. It is the first time I’ve had to publicly declare my interests, news-wise; my local rag features fishing accidents and disappeared girls, and national concerns are relegated to a few front page items. The rest is AP wire service (Tajikistan? Where is Tajikistan?) and columns by writers who trend toward the heartwarming —perhaps to counter the alarming number of matricides.

But I am uncertain about which stories to follow, and worse, concerned about what the threads I do pursue might reveal about my intellectual acuity, good citizenship, and taste. What will people try to sell me, based on my preferences? Am I an ugly American, more concerned with U.S. news than World news? No, I determine. I slide the preference bar to “always” next to World news and “often” next to U.S. I will learn Spanish. I will get a better grasp on geography. I will work magic with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Next decision: Do I really care about Business news? How about Technology? Do I ever want to retire? I should know more about Business. In the subcategory of finance, I learn that the average American is over $4,000 in debt, and being ranked among average Americans, when I have just signaled my concern about global issues, irks me. I move the fader back and forth between often and sometimes. But wait. Is Business more important than technology? I like robots, and if I set my interest in Business higher than technology, will stories about robots be buried at the bottom of my personal news feed? I settle for Business sometimes, and Technology sometimes, and leave off any fine-tuning in the personal finance department.

I haven’t even read the day’s headlines, and already I’m exhausted. Once again, I see that the clamoring masses, the jersey-wearing, ball-catching, cheer-shouting horde are insisting that I must consider Sports. I move the Sports preference bar to “rarely” and then click on the little trashcan. I can throw Sports into the trash, all of those humiliations, my complete lack of spatial coordination, my only child’s perplexity over team dynamics, right into the rubbish with one click.

Then a story catches my eye: Kobe Bryant is failing. I’m interested in failure. For Kobe, I add Sports back to my list, and in an unabashed display of my true enthusiasms, I bump Entertainment up to “always” and fall into a forty-five minute long Google-a-thon that gets me stuck like shoe goo on Rolling Stone Magazine’s web site looking at photos of Juggalos, so joyful and hideous, indulging in their annual tribal ritual.

Health I leave at “sometimes” since I am a hypochondriac, and it’s better to not even consider the subject, and then I discover that Science news is dedicated largely to the Mars Rover (we love you, Mars Rover! Keep on trucking!) and to weird animals. I spend some time among the weird animals, lamenting their disappearances, and wondering at their interesting defense mechanisms. In my quest to adapt, I find myself motoring in a curiously oxygen free environment, my attempts to mask my true nature inadequate.

Tanya Whiton has published stories and poems in literary journals including Western Humanities Review, Northwest Review and Crazyhorse. Her short story “Giving Her Away” was included in the 2006 anthology The Way Life Should Be: A Collection of Stories by Contemporary Maine Writers. She was recipient of the 2009 Martin Dibner Memorial Fellowship for Poets, and the 2000 Martin Dibner Fellowship for Fiction Writers. A resident of Portland, Maine, she has taught for the Lesley Seminars, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, the Stonecoast Writers’ Conference, and the University of Southern Maine. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite thing about Google News is the "related articles" feature, where they clump a bunch of headlines about the same news story very close together, and you can see how different papers react.

    This is an entertaining post!