CLASSIC SHORT STORY LITERARY ART
Someone referred to our recent presentation of an Edgar Allan Poe plague story as “old pop lit.” Well, it is. Writers should recognize the history of their art. We recognize the history of pop literature. In particular, the pop short story, which long before hit records became the rage was the popular American art form.
HOW did it become that?
Because short story writers were able to make an emotional connection with readers, in the same way pop singers today make an emotional connection with their fans.
One of the masters of the American short story was Poe. Another was the man known as O. Henry, who during his brief career became the most popular story writer of them all.
One of O. Henry’s masterpieces is “The Last Leaf,” which we present, in these challenging times, as our feature. The tale is about disease sweeping through a city– but it’s also about love, friendship, and hope.
The setting? A bohemian neighborhood in New York. The characters? Two young artists and an older artist who lives beneath them. All are participants in that era’s version of the gig economy– and so are uniquely vulnerable to the hostile swings of misfortune. As fragile humanity is vulnerable, in our time, or in any time.
In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called. Pneumonia, stalked about the colony, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. Over on the east side this ravager strode boldly, smiting his victims by scores, but his feet trod slowly through the maze of the narrow and moss-grown “places.”
(Art: “Park Street Church in Winter” by Arthur Clifton Goodwin; “New York” by George Bellows.)
Everyone is talking about it so we thought we’d post it– one of the best short stories ever written, “Masque of the Red Death” by that master of pop writing, Edgar Allan Poe.
The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve or to think.
Strangely enough, our previous feature story, “Cracks“ by Wilson Koewing, was about masks (at Mardis Gras), and our next feature– due next week, by Philip Charter— is about partying. A different sort of partying– or is it?
(Painting: “Soldier at a Game of Chess” by Jean Metzinger.)
Eric Bauer is our featured writer today, NPL readers. He brings us a thoughtful story about the death of a young English teacher abroad… An Irishman in Taiwan.
At the morgue, Liam’s his head was blue and veiny and his mouth open and his eyes shut. The tattoo on his shoulder had been pulled away with the flesh of his arm and then sewn up in great bandages like something out of Egypt, a place he always wanted to visit. He seemed to be turning sideways, jeering at something just out of sight and when we walked around his body and peered in, we felt the coldness of his skin rising up to us like the open door of a freezer so that we pulled back sharp, the formaldehyde and ice tickling our noses, and seeing one another with the same looks, the same failure to view our dead friend this one last time, a shame settled over our heads that made us cagey and awkward until someone reached out, a hand on a shoulder then another and another until the five of us were interlaced like a braid and we could stand there again and see him and just let it be.
Thank you to yisjourneytothewest.blogspot.com for the unbelievable photo.
Hello, New Pop Lit Readers!
We’re getting geared up for our Aug 16th launch date and thought a taste of classic pop lit would tide folks over.
Karl and I have chosen Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Sire de Maletroit’s Door for your enjoyment. A dark story set during the Hundred Years’ War, it’s a great example of writing from storytelling’s golden age…
Denis de Beaulieu was not yet two-and-twenty, but he counted himself a grown man, and a very accomplished cavalier into the bargain. Lads were early formed in that rough, warfaring epoch; and when one has been in a pitched battle and a dozen raids, has killed one’s man in an honorable fashion, and knows a thing or two of strategy and mankind, a certain swagger in the gait is surely to be pardoned.
Read more here!