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, April 9, 2012

No news today - Guest Post - Jac Jemc

Excerpt from My Only Wife

I asked the question, sure of the answer, but my wife said, “Deaf.” I was certain she’d rather be blind.
“Really?” I asked, confused. Maybe she was being contrary.

The question surfaced after we had seen a woman in the art museum with her Seeing-Eye dog. We wondered how and why a blind person would go to an art museum, whether they might be allowed special privileges or something, like running their hands over the statues. We wondered whether there were floor plans printed in Braille. We were on a schedule, though, and we were polite, so we didn’t follow her around to figure out what was happening.

In the gift shop at the end of the day we saw the woman flipping through a row of art calendars priced at half-off because it was already the middle of January. Her dog was seated contentedly at her feet.

“She must be only partially blind,” my wife said.
“Or maybe she just wanted to bring her dog to the museum,” I replied, in good humor.

My wife seemed to consider this for a moment before moving on. We paid for a handful of postcards and an art book. On our way out the huge glass doors I asked the question.
I heard my wife’s answer and distrusted it.

“But you listen to your records every night. You record stories on cassette tapes instead of writing them down. You’re saying that if tomorrow you had to choose between being blind or deaf, you would be deaf? I don’t believe it for a second.”

She sighed. “The situation is ridiculous in and of itself. I’m never going to be given that choice. If either of those unfortunate events should occur, I would, of course, learn to deal with it, but if I had to choose right this moment, especially after that afternoon we just spent seeing beauty, I would say I would rather be deaf. I don’t care if I ever listen to those tapes again. I would rather spend my time gathering more stories than being nostalgic for the past or listening to them and thinking about what a wonderful storyteller I am.”

“But, why, then, do you record the stories at all?”
“For the sake of time. They need to go somewhere. I need somewhere to store them so I can start over again.”
“What does that mean?”

My wife stopped walking. The sidewalk was crowded. People bumped into us. My wife looked at
me like I had offended her deeply.

“Well, come on!” I said. “That was so cryptic. You can’t say something like that and expect me to roll with it. Did that mean anything? Did you want to avoid answering my question?”

My wife was furious. “Let’s hear your answer to the question. Would you rather be blind or deaf?”
“Deaf, but I don’t focus my life around listening to people’s stories, and recording them on cassette tapes!”

My wife’s expression shifted to one of triumph, “You’re right about that. You most certainly do not listen. I’m sure it would be quite easy for you to give that up. I’m not saying I want to be deaf. You made me choose; I chose. You can’t tell me my choice is not my choice. It’s mine. Does it drive you crazy that you have no control over that?” My wife broke through the crowd of people passing us, to get to the staircase leading down to the el station.

I stood for a moment, watching her, astonished. When my wife had disappeared out of my sight, I started after her, pushing through the sidewalk traffic. I tried to race down the stairs, but I got caught behind a slow, elderly woman. By the time I had scanned my card, I heard a train pulling up and raced toward the track down another staircase. As I arrived on the platform, the train was already pulling away.

My wife was gone.

Jac Jemc's first novel, My Only Wife, will be released from Dzanc Books in April 2012. Jac is also the author of a chapbook of stories, These Strangers She'd Invited In, that sold out at Greying Ghost Press last year and the poetry editor of decomP Magazine. She blogs her rejections at jacjemc.com.

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