the queen of storms
sends sleepless nights
(Painting: “Storm Over the Black Sea” by Ivan Aivazovsky.)
the queen of storms
sends sleepless nights
(Painting: “Storm Over the Black Sea” by Ivan Aivazovsky.)
THIS IS a question we hope to ask more often in coming months and perhaps provide answers– with the knowledge the short story is marginalized in the culture or at least fallen from its once-lofty station one hundred years ago when everyone in America was reading them and new story writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald were celebrities.
WILL the art become like string quartets or live theater– property of a set group of Insider cognoscenti based in select artistic capitals, with tiny groups of imitators scattered across the country, sharing their sacred texts like monks keeping an archaic cultural form scarcely alive? In what ways can it change? Is its regeneration doable– can a few Dr. Frankenstein mad scientists in artistic laboratories generate electricity through the monster’s body, and thereby rejuvenate it?
We don’t know. Odds against the idea are steep. We only know that in future days we’ll be looking for stories which look different. Which try new things, no matter how offbeat or quirky.
TODAY we present a short story which looks and sounds different from the norm, “The Age of Insomnia” by Christopher Landrum. Not a linear story so much as a painting you look at and try to take in as one impression, with allusions to law, to literature, and to maybe the short story itself.
Father was a lawyer. The idea that all the cases and statutes of the law can be read together as some grand story sounds like a childish cliché—but what I wonder these nights is, can a story somehow be law?
WE HAVE other thoughts about art and the short story in a post at our NPL News blog, here.
ALSO be sure to see what we’re doing new with our print issues, here.
DURING THIS our Summer Reading Festival we’ve already run two of the best stories which could be found anywhere that inhabit the literary end of the pop-lit spectrum. Today we have a short story more on the pop end, “The Boiling Point of Placid Water” by Andrew Hughes.
In groping for new ways to write a short story, one of the variables to be considered is a story’s pace. This particular tale runs with the racing speed of a turbocharged vehicle, propelling the reader forward and not letting go until the conclusion. Are elements sacrificed? Interiority? Detail? Possibly– but remember as with an Impressionist painting, the mind fills in details based on its own experience. As compensation in the meaning department, we have the story’s inescapable political context. Also, with Puerto Rico, a distinct sense of place. Minimal trade-off for what’s gained.
The sum of it all is the creation, in a mere 2500 words, of a nightmarish world where nothing is stable or predictable. A whirlpool of surprise and terror. Kind of like the world we’re living in now.
Enjoy the experience!
“This is a bad idea,” said Guzman. They were dressed in their finest suits in the back of a limo.
“Carlos, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
“José, he’s going to deny having any deals with Shell and you’re going to look like a colluder and bang, your public base is gone.”
“We have documents proving the connection.”
“Fuck your documents,” said Guzman.
(Featured art: “Force of a Curve” by Tullio Crali.)
Hello! We continue New Pop Lit‘s Summer Reading Festival with another excellent feature story that could/should be in The New Yorker (which I keep mentioning because it’s the only venue which still pays big $$$ for fiction, but this will change). The new story in question is “Symmetry” by Emil Birchman— another reason I mention that magazine in Manhattan is because our new feature has similarities to “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, the only short story published anyplace the last ten years which made a cultural impact. Birchman’s story is also about an awkward, budding relationship, but is better written and more subtle. In it’s own way, like a three-dimensional image in which one can see different things, based on viewpoint.
We ask the question: What do you think of this story? How do you take the ending? What really happened or is happening?
Among other themes, “Symmetry” is about online dating, and more, what phones, computers, and the internet do to relationships and the perception of reality. But let us know what you think.
Fifteen minutes later, they found themselves in the local park synonymous with M.’s dating profile. For some reason, the scenery didn’t have the vibrancy of the pictures. The leaves were green, and pollen clung to the air. But her images weren’t edited, that was for sure. No filters, photoshop or other picture editing shenanigans. And the scenery, the movements on the pond’s surface and the breeze pressing against the foliage were all real. The only difference was the absence of his own filter. . .
ALSO, be sure to stop by our POP SHOP to peruse the joys of non-online reading. Is there anything more exciting than finding a wonderful new publication, full of colors and stimulating reading, in your mailbox?
(Art: “A Girl Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)
The summer people choked the road, filled up the taverns, trashed the beachfront, and parked everywhere and anywhere, even in places they shouldn’t.
So begins the feature story kicking off our impromptu Summer Reading Festival 2021, “People Ruin Everything,” by Anne Leigh Parrish, one of the best short story writers going. I don’t know if a story could better capture how everyone feels right now after eighteen months of pandemic, of interruption in our lives we naively thought would be over after three weeks or at most three months, but goes on. The story captures the mood: frustration that may seem illogical, but it’s there, in all of us, as undercurrent to the resumption of our lives.
Anyway, it’s a short story which should be in The New Yorker, but we’re fortunate and grateful to have it at New Pop Lit, and trust you’ll agree with our opinion of it.
She thought about the note they left. She didn’t like being lied to. Some people lived on lies, made a career of them, in some cases. Just look at any politician. She hated people who thought they were smarter than everyone else, who made getting over a full-time job. They’d laughed as they walked up to the car, and they were probably still laughing wherever they were now and wherever they were going.
What about the rest of our Festival? In coming weeks we’ll be featuring more great new fiction, as well as re-announcing selected readings– fiction and poetry– previously featured at this site. Is that all? NO!
OUR OPEN MIC RETURNS
We’re also restarting our Open Mic feature with a reading of a terrific poem by the UK’s Alisha J. Prince, “Heaven Bound.” Click the link and take a listen.
NEW YORK MEDIA NEWS
We ALSO have at our NPL News Blog a short article about curious doings at iconic Newsweek magazine. Is this the direction in which other New York publications will be headed? What do you think?
POP LIT PRINT READING
FINALLY, check out the print publications we now offer at our POP SHOP— where we’re free to be somewhat more experimental, in attitude, words, and design, than what we present here, as we attempt to cut new paths toward the literary future.
Anyway, we hope everyone has a glorious summer– and does a lot of reading!
(Featured art: “Two Girls Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)
INVENTING THE NEW
Zeens are a book-zine hybrid, with roots in the print-zine scene of the 1990s, taken to a whole other level of quality and design.
Zeens are a totally new product unlike anything before seen.
Zeens are a way to rejuvenate the literary game– a path toward connecting intelligent people from all spheres to the joys of literary reading.
Zeens are instantly attractive, accessible, and appealing, modestly packaged yet wonderfully colorful. They shout, “Take me, read me, collect me!”
They’re like finding a glowing treasure, the unexpected gift.
Purchase your zeen here, today.
TODAY we present a slice-of-life story by Alex Law, “West Columbus,” about a young woman working as a stripper in a dive bar in a bleak neighborhood of that name. Life in America today? Is the story social commentary? Or merely a great short read?
Maybe it’s just literature— writing of rounded reality and depth which can encompass a number of meanings and viewpoints. Read it for yourself and see.
She ignores him. She isn’t afraid. His casual, daylight misogyny couldn’t be more boring. She lets the silence eat him alive. Bite by bite. Eventually his testosterone fades under the uncomfortable sideways glances from other passengers. He and his stink go away. Every bus Cadie has ever been on has men like this.
(Featured art: “Nude Woman Reading” by Robert Delaunay.)
CREATING THE NEW
We’re reinventing literary publications with innovations in writing and design, as seen in our latest print publication–
–the first genuine step toward a fully cubist/three-dimensional literary presentation combining words and art into a kaleidoscope of creation of a kind never before seen. Neo-modernism? Or: Neo-Pop?
Available at our POP SHOP.
Bold and readable, the future is upon us, NOW.
HELLO! Another long holiday weekend is upon us, so we’ve taken the opportunity to present a slice of July 4th fiction, coordinating with the currently-unpopular theme of patriotism. The story: “The Deserters” by New Pop Lit regular Nick Gallup, whose work never disappoints. Gallup’s story is a reminder that America, yes, has occasionally done a few things right– one of them taking on head-on that embodiment of villainy, the Nazi war machine. This tale gives us a glimpse of the all-crucial Battle of the Bulge– putting you right there. Worth a read.
His depleted company followed him as they merged with hundreds of others from their division as they headed towards St. Vith, Belgium. The dirt road was hard and icy, and guys kept slipping and falling. It was bitter cold, and they wrapped their green scarfs around their faces and pulled their wool overcoats tight against their bodies to ward off the furious winds whipping them with snow and sleet. Many of the men they met up with had either lost or abandoned their weapons, and they just slumped forward into the wind, walking as fast as they could to escape. Lappy couldn’t see their faces, but he could read the defeat and despair in their owl-sized eyes.
Art: “Breakfast in the Snow (Belgium)” by Robert N. Blair.
A NEW KIND OF PUBLICATION
The book is dead. Or at least, the word itself turns off more than half of the potential audience, because they associate it with word-clotted unexciting tomes packaged in volumes reeking of dust and stodginess.
Time to rethink the package– and the product itself. Which is what we do in our latest “zeen” journal/fanzine hybrid, Extreme Zeen 2. Worth a look for the adventurous. Buy it here. Try out the New– soon to be the NOW. (We’ll be surprised if upon receiving it you don’t say, “Wow!”)
Until then, read the story behind the publication, “The Story of Extreme Zeen.”