Ryan Kamstra Is Working On A Crazy New Book

Ryan Kamstra is probably best known to Little Red Umbrella readers as the frontman for super-awesome art rock band Tomboyfriend (who we pretty much never shut up about). But he's also a writer and a poet, and a rather excellent one at that. His newest project is a book called System's Children, a series of eight stories about cities and suburbs and how people related to place. As Kamstra puts it, the book mixes "social realism with fantasy" and "draws on folklore and journalistic reportage to present a J.R.R Tolkien-scale allegory of contemporary globalism."

Apparently, it's full of porn addictions and vampires and homosexual office administrators and video games and gentrification and strange dreams and forged love letters from Franz Kafka and the downtrodden glamour of the sex industry.

In order to help fund the last stage of System's Children, Kamstra has launched an Indiegogo campaign. You can check it out here. (The deadline for contributions is this Sunday, July 1, and perks for contributions include stuff like Tomboyfriend records and you own copy of Kamstra's book.)

Here, to get you all excited and stuff, is an excerpt from "A Ghost Named Ed" — one of the eight stories:

A digital clock watched while an apocalypse broadcast live upon a wandering trance of billboards. Fred Jaxom, creaturely-fresh from the deep-circuited valleys of million-eyed office towers, the pawing, undirected caress of the crowd, dissipated low firms, badly drawn pawn shops, the ziggurat of the interbanks, the frizzy twinkling star-trees, and passages of mysterious SUVs that would disappear in little savvy eclipses of divine pollution, hot, like inconsolable fucking, and damp undershirts and halter tops causing little love static in little whirls of anonymity, secreted under a blushing need of a sky, and cops here or there who did not like their job and so had resurfaced in a bad dream-of themselves as a viscous hand lotion, running sluggish along the streets, the reluctant gang wars and beautiful murmurings of languid, rainbow-eyed strangers, hope-prone dupes who had once believed in things, passionately, tenderly and because they needed to, when words like mouths could open wounds—a Fred Jaxom who once perceived all this to be bright as day, his own destiny and the promotion of the just truth as unassailable and unquestionable as inevitable, entered the vaulted, chintz lobby through the cool automated glass, the stirring sensors parting ways before him, like he was finally following through on the promise of some deeply withheld first kiss which had been quietly rumored since before all the escalations began, before all the walls had come up, but got lost, frankly fucked up, and, without too much fuss, quietly surrendered along the way. Pollution moving in mysterious tracers between trees, a quiet intensity of strangers quivering in their stomachs, like first time erotic performers among the cottonwoods, curtains up, heads dignified, like trying on love one more time, this time without blinders on: one world, one peoples and too much beauty.

Fred Jaxom passed through a sticky film of cobwebs and gradually the perspective more owing to reality came back to him. This was the office for employment retraining. The receptionist, a poor, delicate working boy, a pooped prop of a book-end, lips dusted by just a whisper of lip gloss, lavender kerchief tying raven braids, bopping to invisible music, looked up, blinking, typing steadily the whole while. The reception area was lined with plywood bookshelves full of leather-bound books, blood-brown, smelling alien, ambient and marshy. Fred took a seat on the androgen, bare love-seat near a tiffany lampshade, anxious, like he was within the breath of something far too fanatically adoring, and began fingering brochures spread like an unread fortune on an adjacent table. They featured a gloss index of images of employees, not unlike himself, happily retrained, grinning and carrying golf clubs for the boss, turning off the TV for their handsome tired boss, giving the boss a tender blow job as he ate his TV dinner, frankly unaware of the poor tender suckling thing, who was stripped down to only poetic feathers, and who was maybe even falling in love with the mean thing, but the mean thing was dourly content with married life, but maybe they could catch a weekend trip sometime, scraps for the boy who loved too much, and so on.

"May I help you," offered the funny boy receptionist in a voice sultry, wispish and smoky.

"I am here to be retrained," confessed Fred, in a gravely tone which the potted plants bowed towards as he neatly returned the brochure.

"Please, take a seat."

The receptionist waved at a semicircle of chairs orbiting his desk. Fred considered. The chairs were ornately handcrafted, testaments to a more patient age or stragglers from an old dining set.  Fred gambled on which one looked sturdiest, and sat.

It felt like a first date.

"Your name?"

"Fred Jaxom."

The receptionist typed with the grave staccato of a two fingered pianist:  Ed Jaxom.

“Your former position and job title?”

Fred shifted in his seat. He'd become aware of a ceiling fan whirling drowsily overhead.

It was so hot. Fred dabbed his forehead and signed with both his knuckles and thumb for the receptionist to lean in closer.

-----

Again, you'll find the Indiegogo campaign here.


Photo: Ryan Kamstra performing with Tomboyfriend (by Adam Bunch)



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