The Perfect Christmas Gift

Announcement

EASY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

Want an easy way to Christmas shop? Simply purchase our flagship publication, ZEENITH, at our Pop Shop, and in the Ship To part of the order enter the name and address of the person you wish to receive the gift.

Why ZEENITH?

Because everything about the issue is first rate– a literary publication unlike any that’s ever been created. Not a book. Instead: a work of art, featuring top-notch writing along with striking illustrations and graphics. Each page is an adventure unto itself.

Not only that, but we’re sending each copy this time of year in special silver envelopes, so the recipient knows they’re receiving something truly unique. We’ll include inside the package a holiday “From: To:” note, to be sure they know the gift was sent care of YOU. (We’ll also throw in a “pop” postcard or two.)

an order ready to go out

ZEENITH is the perfect gift for intelligent friends, for high school or college-age sons or daughter, nieces or nephews, or for artistically-curious aunts, uncles, even parents or grandparents. (Far better than a scarf or tie!)

Let’s do it! Order your copy now at our POP SHOP.

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A Pop-Lit Circus

Announcement

MUCH IS HAPPENING!

FIRST is our new feature story, “Just Another Silly Love Song” by Nick Gallup.

SECOND is our Reading Challenge! inviting any and all readers and writers to peruse the Nick Gallup story alongside one of the New Yorker magazine’s latest, by much-awarded author George Saunders, and compare them.

NEXT, our nominations for this year’s Pushcart Prize– a fantastic opportunity to reread the offerings.

WE ALSO have a new print zeen, Crime City USA, available now at our POP SHOP.

buy it now!

FINALLY, a big thank you to all those who’ve checked out our site or contributed to it. The goal has been to get through 2020 come hell or high water and we’re doing it.

(Art: “At the Circus” and “Dancers” by Pierre Bonnard.)

Elements of the Pop Story

Pop Lit Fiction

FINDING A BETTER MODEL

WHICH elements will be required to create “hit” short stories that can grab the attention of large swaths of the public?

Some of them are present in our latest short story by Nick Gallup, “Just Another Silly Love Song.” Such as: two dynamic lead characters with strikingly different personalities; tangible details used to emphasize those personalities (a red Corvette; a black cocktail dress); a well-structured and unified plot with built-in conflict, nothing extraneous, which maintains focus throughout– and much else.

Add to these elements a sense of depth: the two lead characters displaying, well, character– the ability to move beyond themselves in helping others– and you have for the reader a perfect mix. Oh, did I also mention the element of love? That ultimate ingredient in crafting compelling art?

But the best way to know what we’re talking about is to read the story.

Roxy looked a mess. She took note of my looking and correctly interpreted my conclusions. “Sorry I don’t look party-perfect, Ty,” she said sarcastically, with heavy emphasis on Ty, as if it were an affectation. “An unexpected problem came up. I had to don a cap and gown and wash all my make-up off to avoid infection.” She held up slender hands. “Want to know where these have been for the past two hours?”

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(Art: “Return of a Night Bombing Flight of Voisin Aircraft” by Francois Flemeng.)

Vampires and Gravediggers

Pop Fiction

WHO’S AFRAID OF VAMPIRES?

Are you?

What could me more in tune with October and the Halloween season than a story about gravediggers looking for vampires?

The story is “Vampire Hunt” by Geoff Orens. We promise it’s not scary!

We turned on our flashlights and walked over to the plot. There, Paul Smith’s grave was still a bunch of turned over dirt. Jeremy Sylvester passed out some garlic while Frank and Clarence proceeded to dig up the coffin. I did feel nervous that someone was going to catch us, but I was also excited to see what an actual vampire would look like. 

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(Featured art: “The Vampire” by Philip Burne-Jones, plus a movie poster c/o Universal Studios.)

Murder Ballads: New Poetry

Poetry

HALLOWEEN draws closer! So today we present at least one poem with a Halloween theme, along with another that’s creepy, and a third which, well, you’ll have to read it. The feature is titled “Life of Murder Ballads and Other Poems” and the poet is John Tustin. Please enjoy.

Living my night of murder ballads, Frankenstein’s Monster
And the poetry of Poe
While you imagine your heart rests in black lipstick and torn fishnet hose.

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(Art: “I Love Eva” by Pablo Picasso.)

Angels and Demons

Pop Fiction

WITH HALLOWEEN soon upon us, we’re considering briefly the idea of angels and demons. Are they mere metaphors for the emotions of good and evil– or unseen forces influencing us in mysterious ways?

As Hamlet said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Which brings us to our new fiction feature, “Fatima” by Karl Miller. Novella-length noir in which a pair of insurance investigators look into two deaths at a construction site. There is more to the deaths than appears at first glance– and more to the story. Not your typical detective tale. We know you’ll enjoy it.

Next to an overturned fourteen-foot aluminum fishing boat, its engine blade stopped in a last futile cut at the air, two fully-clothed bodies, face down, gently moved back and forth with the motion of the waves.

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(Art: “Demon Seated” by Mikhail Vrubel.)

Virtual Insanity

Pop Lit Fiction

HAVE WE ALL LOST OUR MINDS?

ELECTRONIC MEDIA has graced us with bombardments of information coming at us from all directions, all sides, stimulating our curiosity at the same time making us believe we’re missing something if we don’t remain plugged in– and we’re all plugged in. The digital world, brilliantly described in Oliver Bennett‘s new short fiction piece, “On the Origin of An Event,” our newest feature. A descent into– ? You know the analogy.

he would wake up early, quickly dip into the news as he waited for the kettle to boil, then try to stay up to date on everything throughout the day, immersing himself in international relations on the toilet, taking a deep dive into the history of every major world power on the tube to work, and even the smaller countries in a brief lull between meetings, and he would wade through an article on finance while waiting for the office microwave to ping– credit swaps, interest rates, collateral debt obligations, inflation, deflation, stagflation…

We haven’t run many features this year, but they’ve all been terrific.

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Of course, the pandemic with its lockdowns and Zoom sessions has only accelerated the retreat from the actual.

IS there escape from the madness? A question we’ve begun exploring as we consider the future of this project and try to plot out what 2021 for us, and for everybody, will look like.

Enjoy the story!

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(Art: “The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol” by Franz Marc; “Stormtroopers” by Otto Dix.)

Mystic Hunt for Better Poetry

Poetry

We’re on a mystic hunt for better everything, including better language, better writing, better art. Are those unicorns which don’t exist– or can they exist with the right drive, plans, imagination? Latest in our quest is a poem by Chris Vola, “Impractical Taxidermy.” His view of the world and this crazy society encompasses plants, personas, rap, bulldogs, video chat, Whole Foods– and a whole lot else. We think you’ll enjoy it.

your eyes as downtrodden

as my social media presence

frozen fingernails waiting to flatten me

like last birthday’s Perrier-Jouët

against the darkening pavement

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(Art: “Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn” by Martin Schongauer.)

Balloon Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

WHO LOVES A BALLOON?

“Everybody Loves a Balloon” is the title of our newest feature story by Mather Schneider, about a balloon ride. Who doesn’t want to go on a balloon ride? What could possibly go wrong?

The basket was six feet wide by six feet long by four feet deep. The four of them loaded in. It was as intimate as an elevator. The fire from the burner hissed upwards. 

balloon painting by E. Godard

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ALSO check out the new review– “Is the Best Good Enough” — up at our NEWS blog, of a new novel by award-winning author Darin Strauss. In this instance, more than a simple book review.

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(Art: “Large Balloons” and “Balloon Painting” by Eugene Godard.)

What Is Pop Fiction?

Pop Fiction

POP FICTION ASSAULT 2020

— commences today with a J. B. Stevens story about a diner and the man who owns it, and the women who work at it: “The Hostess Stand.”

The Crazy Chicken Café was nobody’s idea of fine dining. Stupid décor and non-offensive pop music were the themes, but Dan didn’t mind. The generic soul food buffet was a cash cow and he loved the smell of fried chicken.

WHAT IS pop fiction? It might be described as readable and real. Or, the story itself is the point, written not for stuffy professors in narrow towers so high they’re removed from the world, but for anybody. The idea that any stray unwary person could stumble upon it, begin reading and enjoy it. To provoke a smile, or frown, or an insight on the world we live in now. 

J.B. Stevens is one of several adept pop fiction writers we’ll be featuring through the rest of the summer into the fall, and maybe the rest of the year. We know you’ll enjoy their work. 

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(Art: “Table in a Cafe” by Pablo Picasso.)