Remember What Bernie Says

In no way, shape or form, am I delusional to think that my little old Agonist II blog has the kind of flow to drive up sales or attention, but as my old R&B blues man friend, Bernie Milton, used to say: “My man, there’s nothing to it, but to do it.”

Check out the following:


The Collectors by Matt Bell.

Matt Bell’s The Collectors was chosen by Brian Evenson as the runner-up manuscript in the 2008 Caketrain Chapbook Competition. The tale of compulsive hoarders Homer and Langley Collyer so shocked 1940s Manhattan that the brothers and their Harlem brownstone live on today as one of the most notable American case studies of acute disposophobia. With a nervous energy and obsession to match his protagonists, Matt Bell’s prose burrows, forensically, into the layers of the brothers’ lives, employing a multilinear narrative structure and a frenetic plurality of perspectives to reach a core of despair that is both terrifyingly primal and distressingly familiar.

I know Matt through the literary magazine Twelve Stories as well as several other sites. He’s a dope writer with a sick sense of humor. I’ve ordered my copy of The Collectors. Do you have yours?


Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma

Fade in on thirteen-year-old Dani Callanzano. It’s the summer before eighth grade, and Dani’s stuck in her nowhere mountain town with only her favorite noir mysteries at the Little Art Movie Theatre to keep her company. But when a big secret invades the scene in real life, Dani decides to bring the truth to light. Armed with a vivid imagination, a flair for the dramatic, and her knowledge of all things Rita Hayworth, Dani sets out to solve the mystery, and learns more about herself than she ever thought she could. All she knows is someone’s been lying and thinks they can get away with it. And it all has something to do with a girl in polka-dot tights…

I’ve read Nova’s short fiction. I’ve heard Nova read. I follow her on twitter and bellylaugh at her tweets. She is the real deal and has her first novel publishing September 22, 2009. The ARC is out there, floating around. If you’re lucky enough, you might just find it in a used bookstore. But I assume not. This book has a fantastic cover and the prose it tween-y and noir-y too. I’m waiting to see what she does next.


The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

From the New York Times book review:

Magoon’s first novel shows movingly how the two sons of a civil rights leader come to bear the cost of the struggle. In the fictional, but convincingly detailed, world of the book, it’s 1968 and Roland Childs is a close ally of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While the adults hold meetings and strategize in the background, Stick, the older son, is inexorably drawn to the Black Panthers, with tragic consequences. The younger boy, Sam — not sure what or whom to believe — tells the story, and has to decide how it will end.

Recently published, this book is en route to making metropolitan-size waves. Just read through to the end of the book. This is one of, if not, the only book to cast a favorable shadow over the Black Panthers without any of the negative connotations. Hold on to your hats.


Behind the Bit by Jessica Burkhart

Burkhart’s fan base and sales numbers keep growing and growing and showing and showing. She is a YA/Tween author to watch with an insane online presence. Behind the Bit is the third book in the series and drops in May. Yee-haw.


Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk’s 10th novel is a potent if cartoonish cultural satire that succeeds despite its stridently confounding prose. A gang of adolescent terrorists trained by an unspecified totalitarian state (the boys and girls are guided by quotations attributed to Marx, Hitler, Augusto Pinochet, Idi Amin, etc.) infiltrate America as foreign exchange students. Their mission: to bring the nation to its knees through Operation Havoc, an act of mass destruction disguised as a science project. Narrated by skinny 13-year-old Pgymy, the propulsive plot deconstructs American fixtures, among them church (religion propaganda distribution outlet), spelling bees (forced battle to list English alphabet letters) and TV news reporters (Horde scavenger feast at overflowing anus of world history), before moving on to a Columbine-like shooting spree by a closeted kid who has fallen in love with the teenage terrorist who raped him in a shopping mall bathroom. Decoding Palahniuk’s characteristically scathing observations is a challenge, as Pygmy’s narrative voice is unbound by rules of grammar or structure (a typical sentence: Host father mount altar so stance beside bin empty of water), but perseverance is its own perverse reward in this singular, comic accomplishment. (May)

These aught to be enough to keep you busy for a while.

Remember what Bernie says.

Keep on.


About J. R. Angelella

J.R. Angelella has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and his award-winning short fiction has appeared in various literary journals. He teaches writing at the University of Maryland, College Park and lives in Baltimore with his wife, the writer, Kate Angelella. For more information, visit his website at or follow him on twitter: @jrangelella.
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One Response to Remember What Bernie Says

  1. nova says:

    Oh! I’m honored to make it on the list! Thanks, JRA.And PYGMY looks so great. I hope it’s, um, better than SNUFF.

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