Pace and the Pop Story

Pop Fiction

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. 

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(Featured art: “Force of a Curve” by Tullio Crali.)

More Carnival Fun

Pop Fiction

IN LINE with the fun carnival vibe we’ve been following in anticipation of the March 3 release of our next print publication, we present today as featured story “Carnival Fun” by Jeremy Perry. Perry presents a vivid slice of old-fashioned Americana, a look at the experience of attending a small-town carnival– a precursor and reflection of our entire P.T. Barnum ballyhoo civilization full of life and color, grotesqueries and attractions. The story is entertaining yet conveys reality, even poignancy, regarding the characters and their experience. A terrific, deceptively subtle tale. We hope you enjoy it.

We traipsed down the makeshift hallway that was petitioned off with dark curtain barriers. Twenty feet in and to the right was Lizard Man. He moved around in a tall Plexiglas box. Mounted high in a corner was a flood light, and on the floor I saw a food dish with slices of fruit in it.On the far side was a log inclined against a boulder. He moved around slowly in his lizard habitat. He wore green Spandex shorts and like I said, the rest of him was tattooed and covered in green lizard skin. He came crawling over and stopped in front of the girl. His eyes locked-in on her. His head made snappy jerks, left, right, up, down, and his tongue flicked the air. He played the part well.

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(Art: “Pip and Flip” by Reginald Marsh; “Mermaid” by Fred G. Johnson.)

After Christmas Fiction

Pop Fiction

TWAS THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. . . .

Many people are off work the week between Christmas and New Year’s– and this year many are out of work– and given winter weather in many parts of the world containing our audience– and with the lockdowns– many are stuck at home regardless. Which means it’s an ideal time to read a Day-After-Christmas story, “The Huffy” by Richard Daub, about– what else– a gift gone awry. Give it a read.

“They got you a Huffy?” Eric laughed, referring to Carl’s new bike. “Huffys are for losers. Did they buy it at Sears?”

“I don’t know,” Carl said, knowing they probably did. His mother always took them to Sears to buy school clothes. “I asked for a Mongoose.”

In Massapequa, Mongoose was the Corvette of BMX bikes, while their “Supergoose” model was like a Ferrari. Huffys were like a Le Car.

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(Art: “The Christmas Hamper” by Robert Braithwaite Martineau.)

Tale of the Christmas Bear 2020

Pop Fiction

(YET ANOTHER REPRISE OF A NEW POP LIT CHRISTMAS STORY.)

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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.

 THE END

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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.)

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.)

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.)

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.)

Pop Mystery from Nick Gallup

Pop Fiction

WE LIVE IN TUMULTUOUS TIMES!

Our innocuous little literary project is NOT at the forefront of anything happening in society– except those happenings involving ART.

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TIRED of nonstop news of rebellion and disease? Of the world seeming to collapse outside your quarantined doors? WE have the antidote– a pop short story from one of the best pop fiction story writers on the planet, Nick Gallup.

The story is “The Mysterious Case of the Sticky Drawer.” WHO stole $3,000 in cash from a teacher’s drawer? Follow the plot and find out.

Our local cops didn’t do much more than write parking tickets and bust kids for buying beer with fake ID’s, sthey made a federal case out of a $3,000 robbery. I was amazed the next day to see Miss McGee’s classroom cordoned off with police tape as they actually dusted her desk and handbag for fingerprints.

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ALSO, don’t forget to stop into our POP SHOP and buy a product. Support independent literature NOT propped up by billionaires or conglomerates. (We also don’t give out free fast-food nearly-inedible tacos.) We ARE a genuine alternative. Thanks!

Holiday Weekend: Pop Fiction

Pop Fiction

“THE MAN WITH TROTSKY’S GOATEE”

While we’ve begun publishing edgier and more experimental work in our new print journals (“zeens”), at heart we remain devoted to pop fiction. As proof, over the next month we’ll present at this site three– or maybe four– pop short stories. All user friendly. Which means, fun reads with some kind of punch, hook, or message to them.

First up is T.R. Healy‘s unusual tale, “The Man with Trotsky’s Goatee.”  

What could be more pop than using a Communist icon for entertainment purposes? Besides, it’s a gem of a little story. Take a look.

He knew Trotsky was a vile and heartless tyrant but, despite that, he thought his goatee looked distinguished and decided he wanted to grow one like the Russian revolutionary. When he did, however, he looked more like a derelict on the street and was disappointed but not enough to shave it off.

Trotsky_Annenkow_1922_cartoon

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AS LONG as you’re here, check out a more capitalist part of the New Pop Lit empire– our new online shop! Now available: Extreme Zeen. One of the more eye-catching literary creations seen this century. A first step toward the total reinvention of the printed literary publication.

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(Art: Detail from “Man, Controller of the Universe” by Diego Rivera; Trotsky cartoon by Annenkow.)

hammer and sickle

Roots Writing

Pop Fiction

ZINES AND ZEENS

Roots music pioneer Little Richard, one of the founders of the rock n roll genre, passed away the other day at age 87. Are there roots writers?

Yes! One of them self-published a print zine for many years named fishspit. We’ve published several of his short stories the past few years, and are able to offer our readers another, “Mephistopheles and Lilith,” which is about a cantankerous (but lovable?) cat. We hope you enjoy it.

As you’ll see when you read the story, zine writing is unlike anything you’ll receive from a university writing program anywhere. The writing is uninhibited and honest. No rules or codes or self-censorship adhered to. In this way it’s as natural and real– as authentic– as American roots music– blues, gospel, r & b, country, folk– was so many years ago.

She was a good woman. She did the best she could with me . . . bailing me outta jail . . . cooking healthy meals . . . and listening to my drunken reveries. She was a good woman, as far as women go. But that cat! Now that was a cat!

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WHY are we presenting the writing of a zinester at this point in time?

As a nod to New Pop Lit‘s own roots– and the roots of our new print publication, Extreme Zeen, which is like an old-fashioned zine in that it’s print and DIY and contains zine elements, yet at the same time we’ve taken those elements to an entirely new level. Inventing something never quite seen before. At least, we think we have. To know for sure you’ll have to purchase a copy and judge for yourself!

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(Art: “Dance Hall Scene” by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson.)