THREE MEN were having trouble lugging their packages across the desert from afar, and came across a depressed bear. Depressed because there wasn’t much to do for a bear in the desert. A bear in a desert? Anyway, the bear was feeling purposeless and alone, and didn’t know if he could “bear it” much longer.
“Why oh why oh why oh why?” he asked, in bear talk.
The three men saw the bear lying in the sand, moaning, with his paws over his head. The three looked at one another.
“After all, it is Christmas,” one of them said, with a perplexed look in his eyes.
“Yes, it is,” one of the other three said.
“Yes!” said the third. “It truly is. It really really is.”
He took his smartphone from his robes and looked at it. Yep, there it was. December 24th. Christmas Eve. Year 0000.
“It’s decided then,” the three said simultaneously, and wondered that the three of them, each from a separate faraway land, had said the same thing.
So together in one voice they asked the despondent animal if he’d like to try “bearing” something useful– their heavy packages of gold, frankincense, and myrrh– to a destination in Bethlehem. The packages were in fact quite heavy and overburdening the camels. Encountering the bear was a fortunate occurrence. Almost miraculous. The bear gladly agreed, as the three men seemed particularly wise to him. He’d seen men before, who were not wise. Not wise at all. But these men were.
The little caravan continued on to Bethlehem until they found shepherds and animals congregated outside a tiny stable behind an inn. The three wise men strode in, bearing their gifts, while the bear quietly crept in behind them and took a place in the straw beside the other animals, who were first alarmed because, after all, he was a bear. But then they looked at the baby and weren’t alarmed at all.
From that day forward the bear was always forever more a happy bear.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from New Pop Lit!
-Karl Wenclas and Kathleen M. Crane
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(Paintings: “The Journey of the Magi” by James Tissot; “Adoration of the Magi” by Fra Angelico.)
AT ITS BEST flash fiction gives you real life in short bursts. Could one say the effect, from an artistic standpoint, is cubist? Sample two new flash pieces by Andrew Sacks to see. One story’s about a marriage. The other, about a job interview. Fast-but-sharp reading.
Miles had always tried to compensate by a self-confidence bordering on bluster. Certainly not a bully, he did in fact seem to intimidate many people, or at least put them on their heels a bit, by his overriding assertiveness and swagger. His belief in himself was absolute. . . .
We’ve also tweaked our “Young Writers” essay, including the fourth profile, of Jess Mize. Are these four writers the future of literature? Do they point a way forward for the literary art– bringing new imagination, charisma, and talent? Read the essay. We’ll be spotlighting other young writers in coming months.
(Painting by Juan Gris.)
WE RETURN TO FICTION! Short fiction that is, with two tales by Israeli writer Yoav Fisher.
Last week we encountered the mass output of NaNoWriMo authors. One individual at our discussion has written a 330,000-word(!) work. (He’s since sent us excerpts– we’ll be interested to look at what he’s doing.) The other side of the coin of exciting new literary happenings is the flash fiction movement.
Fisher’s two tales exemplify what flash fiction is about. Yoav Fisher has a Hemingway-like ability to convey more with less– to give the reader the minimum information possible yet create a strong, even devastating emotional impact. We look for writing that hits us between the eyes. Yoav Fisher has done that.
The helmet landed squarely above the ear with an audible thud. Edward surprised himself from the speed and severity. At five foot eight and doughy since middle school, agility and strength were never Edward’s strong points.
The world is changing, and the worlds of fiction and poetry are changing with it.
With scores of other kinds of media now in existence, other options for the individual, reading needs to be quickly accessible. Upon being read, the story or poem should give the reader a quick high or kick. It’s the only way the literary art can compete.
Among the innovations coming from new writers and websites are short shorts and flash fiction. Stories shorter than the traditional story. Instead of 5,000 words, 500. Or 150. When done well, the new works become more compressed, more powerful, more impactful– ending at times with modernist abruptness.
Today we present two such works by Andrew Sacks, who’s as adept at the form as any writer out there. We hope you enjoy them.
Now a more “serious” engagement presented itself, in the mutual celebration of her birthday. David knew something special had to be done. There would have to be a gift, and a meaningful one. Chosen wisely. Chosen for a woman of taste and a certain obvious refinement.