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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Steven Gillis

I read the news today, oh boy. Every fucking country is at war. Internal strife. Egypt, Iran, Libya, Bahrain, hell even Wisconsin. Wild times to be sure and yet what do we know about any of these conflicts really? What the papers tell us? All the news that's fit to print. What the hell does that mean? Isn't that a cute way of saying All that I feel like reporting, that suits a certain paid for agenda. Am I a cynic? No. A realist rather. Having been around the block enough times to wear a groove my naivete has given way to a matured form of wistfulness. I know what I would like to see happen but have no way of pretending it will. There are pirates in Somalia and the FBI is 8,000 miles away from the States getting people on board sailing ships killed. What the hell is the FBI doing in Somalia and what did they think would happen when they locked up the pirate king? I don't know anymore. Have people just gotten more stupid? I doubt it. The truth about war - yes isn't that where I started? - is that these uprisings of late are totally predictable. Say what you will and there is a buttload to say but Saddam Hussein - as freaky crazy and sick and delusional as he was - he knew how to keep the factions from killing one another. In these other countries - and even in America - it's one thing to mess with the poor. The poor have no leverage, it's like kicking the crippled kid in his bad leg, he's going to fall over. But fuck with the lower middle class, or worse the actual middle class and you can damn well expect a riot. It's all so sadly predictable. Jefferson said the best way to insure democracy is to have a bloody revolution once every 30 years. Well, mostly the countries of the world under fascist regimes or political potentates like here in the States have found ways to suppress revolution. Until now. The fan has found the shit. What will the upshot be? Democracy? We can only hope. Damn, there I did it. I said we can hope. Is that naive? I don't know. Last week here in Michigan we got 13 inches of snow in Ann Arbor overnight. The papers did not predict the storm. I went out 4 different times to shovel our walk and drive. I had the flu, was running a fever. The snow as it hit my cheeks melted as, well, as snow hitting something hot. I watched the snow fall. The moon was halfway full and the flakes in the night glistened. It was beautiful. I felt I was on to something. Each time I returned to my driveway there was more snow which I cleared and stacked higher. The snow has stopped now but the residue is there, the accumulation of what I piled so high to the sides during the storm.

Steven Gillis is the author of 5 books of fiction, most recently the novels Temporary People and The Consequence of Skating. He is not the author of some 3,000,000 other books. He is the co-founder of Dzanc Books www.dzancbooks.org

Monday, April 25, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Will Eno

Excerpt from Middletown

COP: All units in the vicinity: see the man. See the man. See the woman. See the streets and houses, the shadows, the words that don’t rhyme. All quiet here, over. No News is Good News, over. But there’s no such thing as No News, over. Try to see my point. Just look at yourself, over. See the Universe. See a tiny person in the middle of it all, thrashing. See the bright side. Try to look at the bright side. (Brief pause. To audience) Sometimes I’ll talk like this, over the wire. Just to see if anyone’s listening.

Will Eno is a playwright and lives in New York.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Matthew Vollmer

No news today—and no news the next. None. The world, it appeared, had run out. News, finally, was done. There was no longer anything to report, nothing of note to relay. For as long as anyone could remember, the general consensus had been that no news was tantamount to good news. But now that there was no news, those who had grown so accustomed to it—those who had depended it on it, for entertainment, for educational purposes, and to feed the illusion that they were staying informed—didn’t know what to think. No news? Really? None whatsoever? This sudden depletion was itself newsworthy, was it not? Yes and no. “No news” was not really news—at least not for long—and it certainly couldn’t stand in the place of what people had thought for eons as "regular" news. So, once the news of the news’ disappearance had been reported and heard, it was final: there really was no more news.

These early newsless days were characterized by suspicion and doubt. People, being people, wanted to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, nothing—or very little—had changed. Yes, they admitted, it was strange, this lack of news, and sure, they were worried, as any normal person might be, but they expected to hear—any day now—some sort of, well, update, as it were, about how news was doing, where it had been, what had happened to it during its absence. What, in short, was the news about news? Nobody knew. News—being no more—made not a peep.

Time moved forward; nothing of note continued to occur. In the meantime, everybody seemed to be getting along fine. Wasn’t this—this unprecedented harmony —a good and wonderful thing? Hadn’t this newsless age been what everyone, deep down, had wanted? Perhaps. And yet… something seemed to be missing. Something felt “off.” It wasn’t just that the deficiency—the gaping maw that news had left behind—proved palpable; it was also that people had a sneaking suspicion that news had not gone gently into its good night, that perhaps instead it had been kidnapped, murdered, or otherwise done away with in some inauspicious and decidedly horrific manner. Such hypotheses were, of course, unfounded, and turned out to have been a sneaky way of attempting to manufacture a new kind of news. But speculation, no matter how cleverly it got spun, was not—nor would it ever be—news.

Eventually, people had to come to terms with the fact that news, after a good long life, would have to be declared—officially!—dead. And perhaps it was for the best. No news gave people a chance to reflect on and re-assess the news of the past. “How manipulated we’d all been!” they cried. “How shallow! How like woebegone addicts we’d gone about our days, hungering for the next bit of news, in whatever form it took!” The new news, if one could call it that, which one couldn’t—not really—was that people hadn’t needed news nearly as much as the news had wanted them to believe. In fact, it appeared—according to those who studied this kind of thing—that news had not been essential or vital in any way at all. Therefore: “To hell with news! Good riddance! Sayonara!” Everyone was, then, in agreement: they would all would dedicate themselves anew to a new, optimistic, and newsless era. Never again would anyone allow the news to rear its dragon’s head, to breathe its demonic fire, which, as mesmerizing as it had been, also had a tendency to scorch straight through to one’s soul. In this new era, people would return to their homes, to their families and neighbors, their gardens and gazebos. And, for the most part, they would forget about news, although a few—collectors mostly, and nostalgia-freaks—would occasionally take a peep at the old news, which now that it was old, was but a phantasmagoric—if not laughable—representation of what news had been. And during this fabled era—this time before news returned, with a heat-seeking vengeance—everyone was truly happy, and lived sincerely in the belief that they had nothing whatsoever to fear.

Matthew Vollmer is the author of a collection of stories titled FUTURE MISSIONARIES OF AMERICA. He teaches at Virginia Tech and is at work on a novel.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Joanna Howard

In mixed martial arts news last weekend Ryan Bader was trounced by Jon Jones in an explosive light-heavyweight bout. Jon Jones is a spinning, springing, elbow-striker with high kicks and a ridiculous reach, and he choked out the enormous Bader, for whom I have always had a serious soft-spot. While Jones jogged about the cage after his victory, they announced he will get the title shot against Shogun Rua. Shogun was in the audience, looking impossibly smooth and solid at the same time, as if he had been cast from some sort of space-age polymer, something that can withstand an earthquake, but which is satiny to the touch. A material you might use for countertops in a really fancy kitchen. The cameras hit him and he smiled before popping up the short staircase. He stepped into the octagon. Did he look intimidated? He did not.

Two months ago, Quebecois superhero George St. Pierre shattered the orbital socket of Josh Koscheck in a 5 round flurry of brutal striking. It was later revealed that GSP had broken his eye socket with the first punch, and his opponent had to ride out the fight taking blow after blow to the damaged area from the impeccable and fierce welterweight world champ. GSP ended the fight with his characteristic triumphant back flip, then his corner men wiped him down, shirted him up, and slapped a logo beanie on his head. He made a few deeply humble statements in his French-accented English, working a slight Zen koan into his endnotes. Within the hour he would be tooling around Montreal in an Armani suit eating a sweet potato. Who will be the next to fall before the elegant and merciless George St. Pierre? Even more than Shogun, he seems cast in obsidian and coated in high-grade caramel.

What good of all this news? Three months ago was the last time I heard from the retired fighter I’ve been sending fan letters. (He’s a serious legend of the sport. He nearly invented sprawl and brawl. ) Even then he only sent a few words in a very large font, but that was news. God, was that news. I don’t need much encouragement. A slight nod in my direction and I will flood a man’s inbox with pages of baroque, flirtatious prose. So from my perspective, there is no news these days in mixed martial arts.

We all know what no news is supposed to be. I’m sorry to say it’s not. Here’s the bottom line: it’s been 86 days of waiting. 86 days of nothing to report. 86 days of sorrow. 86 days which will go on and on, and soon I won’t be able to count in days, and I’ll need another measurement of duration and endurance. Who could blame the guy? He had no idea what he was getting himself into. And he made it clear to me he could barely read my letters, anyway; they are ‘seemingly infinite lines of barely visible words’ as my friend says, and he does not see so good due to blows to the head, a crushed disc in his back, arthritis, etc. Hearing from me is a headache, a pain in the neck.

He is barely my age. In my field I am considered a bright young thing, just getting started. In his field, the body breaks down much more quickly. For this guy, no news from me would be a relief. He has written me off as too much fine print.

Joanna Howard is the author of On the Winding Stair (Boa editions, 2009) and In the Colorless Round, a chapbook with artwork by Rikki Ducornet (Noemi Press). Her work has appeared in Conjunctions, Chicago Review, Unsaid, Quarterly West, American Letters & Commentary, Fourteen Hills, Western Humanities Review, Salt Hill, Tarpaulin Sky and elsewhere. Her stories have been anthologized in PP/FF: An Anthology, Writing Online, and New Standards: The First Decade of Fiction at Fourteen Hills. She has also co-translated, with Brian Evenson, Walls by Marcel Cohen (Black Square, 2009) and, with Nick Bredie, also co-translated Cows by Frederic Boyer (Noemi, forthcoming 2011). She lives in Providence and teaches at Brown University.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Christina Rumpf

Tramps have overrun the county. Sheep raided, horses missing. A girl is dead in the river. The widows howl like mountain cats. This town is quiet and wanting.

All day we cut and swamp and snake the trees. In summer, it is vengeful beetles or the hotel on fire. We go looking for a bride in the poor house. This one lost her teeth in a railway accident. This one wears wig of horsehair.

On Main Street a machine pumps morphine all night. We wait to see who can stand it most. The boy who wins sets his head in a barrel of water. Thought suicide. Thought to have been in love.

Christina Rumpf received her MFA in Nonfiction Creative Writing from Columbia University in 2009. She is currently at work on her first book.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Debra Di Blasi

Nothing to Report From Africa

The child who died last night when the rain came to fill her mouth with mud and needles whispered your name. Yes. I heard her. Your name: the last kiss of her splintered lips, the final roll of her tongue swelled indigo.

She doesn’t even speak your language, yet the idea of you were with her at the end when the skulking-skinny pye dogs rose up off their hinds and lowered their gaze and wanted above all else the poor meal of her. Imagine that! Your name spilling the precise moment as dog saliva.

Don’t misunderstand: I love you.

Her brown eyes blued like skim milk. One rolled away from the other. A wasp trod the sclera and sank its eggs. When I pinched it off, the fore wings tore from the thorax. I put the wings in the girl’s ear, the pedaling body in her mouth. She spoke.

She whispered your name and reached for you. Yes. I saw her. Her brown fist a chestnut roasted open. I stuck my finger inside. Something bled. I think it was you.

Debra Di Blasi (www.debradiblasi.com) is founding publisher of Jaded Ibis Press and president of Jaded Ibis Productions. In addition to her publishing role, she is a multi-genre writer and artist whose books include The JirĂ­ Chronicles & Other Fictions; Drought & Say What You Like; Prayers of an Accidental Nature; What the Body Requires, and Skin of the Sun (forthcoming). Awards include a James C. McCormick Fellowship in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Thorpe Menn Book Award, Cinovation Screenwriting Award, and Diagram Innovative Fiction Award. She teaching and lectures on 21st Century narrative forms.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Shya Scanlon

No news today, because everyone already knew that Obama was an alien. When the starship came down and hovered above the Whitehouse the cameras turned to watch a single stubborn leaf fall into the newly fallen snow. The last leaf of autumn! they all cried. The first leaf of the apocalypse! All the cameras watched one another carefully plod toward the downward escalator, not running, not running, infinities of static spiraling on their screens. Underneath the First Lawn, golden worms squirmed half-exposed, then disappeared one by one as, the camera’s imagined, they were sucked up and used to fuel the President’s journey home.

No news today, because laughter had already filled the air, and choked those of us still trying to breathe. Fortunately, the new apparatus kept our dead bodies productive. They had use for the motion, but there was no use for the heat, so it just rose. The cameras watched it escape, recording this on blank tapes, and broadcasting it into the stars. The stars, knowing something about heat, were not impressed.

No news today, because the war had already gone on forever.

Shya Scanlon is the author of In This Alone Impulse, and Forecast.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No news today - Guest Post - Joseph Riipi

No News Today

His car buckled, broke down.

Choked up its radiator fluid, sputtered brief oil slicks at the sun.

Door metal screeched and the man spilled out, squinting then collapsing. Tired weeds and mud bury his face. This is how I find him, spilled from his car, glanced from the highway. I'd thought he was an animal, maybe a sack of them. I kick and my shoe comes back sticky.

I turn to the road, keep walking, run.

The highway is made of heat and ocean, wavy, delirious splashing against my face; it soaks my shirt and hair. I run until the gas station, where my wife is sucking soda from a straw and sweaty men pump our car full. Did you find the ring? she asks. I shake my wet head, don't tell her about the body. She sips her soda and stares at my finger. I wish you wouldn't play games like that, she says, and turns away.

I drive us back to the motel because it’s my day to drive, and then we fuck because it's been three days. The fucking is her idea, Something a real married couple would do, she says, A real couple would do it just like this, like an engine in neutral, no gear-grinding or danger, do it to keep ourselves running is all, sensible maintenance. After, she goes to the bathroom to pee; I pull on my shorts and switch on the television. She comes back wearing my t-shirt and parks herself on my shoulder. She falls asleep there, face in my arm pit--her nook, she’s given it as name.

I watch the news for our pictures and then a prison movie while she sleeps. I think about my boyhood dog; how he slept the same, oblivious to endings. I think about tomorrow, where we’re headed, how much we have left, what we’ll do if we never get there. In the morning, I know, we will eat continental breakfast and steal extra lunch for the road. My wife will fill her purse with fistfuls of bottled water, fruits and cookies. She’ll say to me, Someday our car will die in the desert and you'll be glad you married a thief. She’ll say to me, I’m driving today, it’s my turn. She’ll say to me, Keep your hands inside the window, and I will wonder about the man whose body was in the ditch, and maybe we will keep playing this game or maybe not.

Joseph Riippi is author of the story collection THE ORANGE SUITCASE, forthcoming March 2011 from Ampersand Books. His first novel DO SOMETHING! DO SOMETHING! DO SOMETHING! (2009) will be reissued in a new edition later this year. He lives in New York. (www.josephriippi.com)