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.

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.

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