WU MING: The Writer Who Never Was….

by Joe Pachinko

“YOU poked ME on Facebook first! Let’s just get that straight. I didn’t poke you, YOU poked ME!” the e-mail read, “I seriously cannot beLIEVE you actually POKED me!”

“I can’t believe you actually give a shit about it,” Oroville McGurgle said out loud, deleting the e-mail and pouring another glass of vodka. It was 40 degrees C outside, the septic tank had backed up and the yard was flooded with shit again. The phone rang.


“It’s me, Colleen.”

“What’s up?’

“Moe’s Books, the guy at Moe’s said ‘Oh, Oroville? We LOVE his work but we’re just not booking any book events right now.'”

“What the fuck? Who are all those half-Latina Eskimo Lesbians with coming-of-age poetry chapbooks who are listed on their calendar?”

“I know, I know, but that’s what he said.”

“He’s lying.”

“I know. Oh yeah, the Anarchist Coffee Shop says you’re too “corporate” to read there.”

“WHAT?! I’m more of a goddamn anarchist than they are! They haven’t even seen the fucking book! Did you tell them the mainstream bookstores won’t let me read because they think I’m too radical?”

“Yes, I did that but the guy told me they were just really sincerely committed to underground, do-it-yourself artists and that you seemed too commercial.”

“I can’t fucking believe this. O.K. O.K. You are doing a great job, really. Will you try those other places again?”

“O.K. I’ll do it.”

“Thanks Colleen.”

He opened the next e-mail,

“Dear Mr. McGurgle,

We are a serious publisher and do not in any way appreciate your wasting our time with inappropriate submissions. Allow me to remind you that we are deeply committed to discovering new, original, edgy and unique voices, but your writing is just weird. I’m afraid there is no existing demographic to sell “FROZEN EMBRYO ZOO” to. Have you considered writing about dogs or baseball?


Lardell Piggott-Goggins

Senior Acquisitions Editor

Ivy Covered Press”

“Sincerely shit.” ‘This is insane’ he thought. The writers can’t write, the readers can’t read, the bookstores don’t want to sell books…it would be amusing if it wasn’t so fucking stupid. Enzo wanted him to write a piece about the Wu Ming Foundation, O.K. Wu Ming Foundation, a group of four anonymous writers who wrote books collectively. Big sprawling historical novels, first published under the pseudonym “Luther Blissett” and extremely popular in Italy. The “Luther Blissett” ruse had been a kind of dadaist prank, hundreds of different artists producing work under the same name. It was their gimmick, a kind of conceptual art piece. They would remove personal fame from the equation by publishing anonymously to “avoid” fame. It worked, they had become quite famous. Their book tours were extensive, they described the tours as being “Grateful Dead-esque”. Their anonymous pranking seemingly had posed no obstacle to their getting several novels published, and the arrangement of numerous book events. Something almost impossible in the U.S., even with a publisher. Well, Italy was Italy. Different. Lots of Italians there. He lit a cigarette. There was a considerable tradition of artistic/political hoaxes in Italy. He remembered the art students who made several fake Modigliani sculptures and tossed them in the Fosso Reale river in Modigliani’s home town of Livorno just prior to a well publicized attempt to recover some “lost” Modigliani sculptures he had supposedly thrown in the river before leaving for Paris. The “lost” sculptures were found and declared authentic by experts. Then the students produced a video of them carving the “authentic” Modiglianis. The art “experts” were exposed as phony idiotic dumbshits and the last news of the hoax was that art dealers were offering the students sizeable sums for the sculptures. HA! The phone rang.

“AHHHH!” he screamed and picked it up.


“Mama! How are things?”

“The usual. The more I complain the longer God lets me live. You still writing that book?”

“It’s published. Finished. I’m working on a new one.”

“You know your brother gets paid for the books HE writes.”

“I know that Ma.”





“Don’t worry Ma. The new book is about dogs,…and baseball.”

“Well, I want a copy.”

“You’ll get one. Autographed.”

“I love you sweetie.”

“I love you too.”


Outside it had gotten dark. He could hear tree frogs croaking. Sometimes he could hear coyotes howling up on the mountain. And owls. He poured another drink, and opened another e-mail.

“Mr. McGurgle,

I regret to tell you that we cannot justify featuring you in our “New Underground Authors Reading Series”. Your novel “The Demented Vomit Covered Freaks of Yesteryear.” just doesn’t hit that “nerve” we look for in a new author. I wish to reassure you that we are overwhelmingly dedicated to presenting the most deserving of cutting edge and neglected visionary voices and it is our commitment to the truly alternative over the years that has defined “The Revolutionary Voice Booke Shoppe” as the beacon of literary….”


O.K. Alright. Breathe man, breathe. Jupiter’s moons are up there somewhere and we can’t see them. You got some fish sticks in the freezer. Go make yourself something to eat.

Camp Climax California,

May 30th, 2012

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