Should the new short story be entertaining?
ONCE, not much over 100 years ago, the short story was the most popular art form. The American public consumed stories voraciously– work by Jack London, Frank Stockton, Richard Connell, O. Henry, Stephen Crane– even from more refined types like Edith Wharton and Henry James.
What was the hallmark of the short story?
They were entertaining.
Build a better story, we believe, and the public will beat a path toward your door. We’ve already seen steps– baby steps anyway– in that direction in the prestigious-and-usually-snobby pages of The New Yorker. which recently for the first time in decades published a story that some people actually wanted to read.
And so, we give you a tale of suspense and mystery– “The Rottweiler” by Alex Bernstein, one of the best new practitioners of the short story art going. You’ll find in the work a touch of humor, and perhaps a rottweiler or two. Jump into the adventure. . . .
“On the plus side – if we kill you – we don’t have to put up with all this fuss and noise all the time. On the negative side…mm…Woolsy, what was the negative side, again?”
(Painting by Claude T. Stanfield-Moore.)
WE PRESENT not just pop lit, but sometimes straight pop, on our path toward true “fusion” fiction. No less a personage than Jonathan Franzen has claimed to have a similar goal– except that in his ultra-long novels there’s less entertainment value than in a single story by Alan Swyer– and less than one-tenth the heart.
Doubt it? Read Alan’s new tale “Country Sweetheart” to see what the pop lit revolution is about.
Writers are reinventing the short story art! We’ve been covering this in our ongoing series, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” In conjunction with running Alan’s story we present Part IV of the series at our News blog. This section is devoted to– what else?– pop writers.
Grab the New!
“When the world gets weird, instead of doing a Dusty Springfield –”
“‘Wishing And Hoping’ that things’ll change, you’ve got to do something so that you’re who’s changing.”
“That what you do?”
“It’s what I’m doing.”
To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to pop fiction we present as feature a new Norbert Kovacs story, “The Fight.” American literature became thoroughly American when it became thoroughly vigorous– expressing the tough lives and harsh environment of the American landscape. Back in the days when American lit, via writers like Jack London and Rex Beach, was thoroughly populist– not simply a plaything for generously-educated elitists in Brooklyn wine bistros or Manhattan drawing rooms.
We believe you’ll find the Kovacs story a far cry from that refined lifestyle! (Incidentally, when we continue our Overview of new literature, we’ll address the “Pop” side of the pop lit equation– this story a preview.)
Bruises colored his chest like dark blue medallions. His shoulder received a scarlet gash from a punch that had torn him. Mort strained to stand up under McCurdley’s new blows. He had to tell himself to fight. Deliver, he thought. Hit. He lunged and swung.
(Painting by Fyodor Bronnikov.)
Happy Halloween! We find ourselves without a new Halloween story to present to you– so we dug up from a literary crypt fragments of an unfinished slasher novel, like cut-up pieces of a corpse. The original idea was that the intellectual parts of the novel would be scarier than the scary parts. It’s about a city, a mayor, and his wife, and staff, and a series of murders with which they’re confronted. Read the excerpts here.
The resurrected novel notes anyway are an apt prelude to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which kicks off November 1st. We’ll be doing a presentation for NaNoWriMo in the Detroit area– more info to follow .
The finely-sharpened hunting knife filled the killer’s vision. Staring at the edge of the knife intoxicated him. The image carried resonances of barbarism. Violence and blood. To his warped mind, the killings were necessary, but they’d also become fun.
We’re authentic. Our roots are in the DIY zine scene. It’s why we occasionally publish stories from one of the best underground zine writers in America, “Fishspit.”
Also, we’re shameless. We enjoy promoting this site. We can’t help noticing the love for cats across the Internet. Cats are a pop phenomenon. We want in on it.
What happens when you cross a tough underground writer with a cat?
You get “The Cutest Cat That Ever Lived.”
Is it “Literature” with a capital L? We don’t know! But it is entertaining. And authentic. And heartwarming. Especially if you like cats!
I’ve seen thousands of kittens. I’ve volunteered at countless cat rescue shelters . . . so you know I’ve seen cats in my life. I grew up on a farm where at any given time there were 17-23 cats. I have seen cats! I guarantee you Pip was the cutest kitten that ever existed. Don’t you even try to tell me your kitten is cuter.
What happens when you mix homeless veterans, a subway system, and a shady-but-not-all-bad lawyer?
Our new tale, “Tunnel Vision.” Summer reading from Steve Slavin. American reality with a heart.
I ain’t no Robin Hood. Yeah, I do take from the rich and give to the poor, but I’m really in this just for myself. And let me level with you: I make out OK. In fact, more than OK.
(Photos c/o Marie Curie via Untapped Cities.)
After 50 years of stagnation the American short story is changing. Stories now are expected to be entertaining– as they once were, incidentally. It’s the only way stories can compete in an increasingly noisy society with a myriad of choices.
That’s the premise, anyway, behind this website! Today we have a shoplifting story by James Guthrie, “Code 99,” which is short and simple. We believe it’s also entertaining. As they say in the restaurant biz, enjoy!
“You,” the floorwalker shouted, pointing straight at me. “Let’s go.” And off he sprinted, assuming I was close behind.
Dummies! No, we’re not talking about the nation’s political candidates. We refer to actual dummies– the crash test kind. (Quite appropriate, as this website is based in Detroit. Did we feed to our featured writer, Dave Petraglia, inside information?)
Petraglia’s story asks: What happens when a crash-test dummy desires a change? What kind of a change? Read “Crash Tested” and see. The story is very 2016!
In the process, Sean had skipped the childhood admonitions, the isolation and suffering, and found that in the catalog of human emotions and her reactions to them, she was not who she’d been molded to be.
(Artwork by Dave Petraglia.)
With all of us bombarded by bad news from mainstream media on a daily basis, we at NEW POP decided it was time for some humor. After all, we advertise ourselves as the MF (More Fun) website. Sit back, turn off the world and read John Gorman’s “Rejects from the Pretzel Factory.” Humor with heart. But watch out for bad puns!
Has anyone done something so nice for you you’re mad as hell at them? You’re mad because you need to pay them back, not because they expect it, but to squish it from your conscience. After Nick ducktaped my knee at the factory he nursed me in an inexcusable way. He made my life rosier. He talked the head honchos into getting me to play Auntie Bloom, the fake founder of the pretzel franchise.
This is not a Thanksgiving story– not exactly anyway. It’s a story about junior high, and mothers and minivans, and other things. We think you’ll conclude after reading it that Laura Herrin’s “Minivan Vigilante” is an ideal story to read around the holidays.
There on the gym floor Bridgette Calhoun was lined up right next to Kate Carlson. Kate came home and locked herself in her room for days in a row before finally collapsing in Sue’s lap and spilling the saga of Bridgette’s cruelty.