ON CORONAS AND CONTAGIOUS MUSIC
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s an unusual St. Paddy’s Day because of the fear the hysteria the caution protection prevention over a bug, so the parades are fewer, the parties calmer, celebration muted. This year. Unless there’s a final wild-and-masque’d Edgar Poe blowout someplace.
APPROPRIATE then that we have as our new feature a short story, “Townies” by Philip Charter, about six friends traveling to Majorca to party. And party they do.
But what awaits them?
A contagion, yes, but a contagion of a different sort. Not a virus, but having something to do with music and sex.
READ IT! drink it inhale it as you quarantine yourself against the onslaughts of panic and madness.
Within one minute of Gavin fading in the music, the dance floor was covered. It was as if the beat was ripping girls out of their seats, me included. The boys of course followed.
(Painting: “Party” by Emil Nolde.)
A MARDI GRAS STORY
Great 19th century novelists such as Victor Hugo, Charlotte Bronte, and Alexandre Dumas would often put a big scene of a carnival parade into their books. The feeling of uninhibited revelry, chaos, even madness was a way of heightening emotion and consolidating plot threads– as if the true hidden nature of their characters came out– came alive– amid the colors, music, drinking and shouting.
WE HAVE today in time for Mardi Gras 2020 a short story centered around carnival time in New Orleans, and it’s a good one: “Cracks” by Wilson Koewing. The story of course is about more than a parade. It’s about a relationship– more, it’s about life, about love, about being human and filled with the kind of chaotic mad emotions we flawed creatures are prone to. Put on your Mardi Gras mask and plunge in.
As we close in on St. Charles, the din of the crowd materializes. Carnival food smells ride on the breeze. You sense the impending madness. It rushes slowly, not towards you. You enter. It surrounds you. And you’re inside. There is a wall, and when it envelops you, there is no escape.
(ART: “The Peacock” by Natalia Goncharova.)
“Q & A” by Alan Swyer, our new feature, is an intriguing short story– it appears to be about one thing but is actually about something else, which adds a rounded quality to the work. A sense of dimension or depth.
Ostensibly the story is about a filmmaker agreeing to answer questions in a hostile environment. What happens when he steps on the stage to face that audience?
We hope you enjoy it.
Nor had a lengthy call with the festival’s program director put Donner’s mind at ease. “I like work that’s edgy and biting,” Todd Gallagher explained, which for Donner confirmed that his film was chosen with the hope that it would provoke. That belief was heightened when Gallagher added, “There’s nothing I love as much as a violent collision of cultures.”
(While you’re at it, please check out our two most recent blog posts: “Love Story Examined: A Writing Template” and “Miserable Love Stories by Alex Bernstein.”)
(Art: “Odysseus in the Land of the Dead” by N.C. Wyeth.)
THE SEARCH FOR LOVE
We all need it, we all want it, and those who’ve rejected the concept have built iron walls around their hearts to keep it out– so deadly to them is the fear of not being loved. Cynicism masks a thousand heartaches.
OUR ONLY ADVICE is: keep trying. The right person is out there for everyone, sometimes discovered when you’re not watching.
Is this the message of our new feature story, “A Wild Feeling” by Anne Leigh Parrish?
Well, kind of. . . .
He asks where love goes. She doesn’t know. She’s never known. Out there somewhere, with the waves and the sand. Maybe that’s what the gulls sing about every day, as they glide aloft.
(Art: “Large Poppies” and “In the Lemon Grove” by Emil Nolde.)
THE QUESTION OF POLITICAL FICTION
IS all art political? Can it be? MUST it be?
WE ARE NOT a political web site, though the storms of politics rage on all sides around us– and though we may (or may not) be in the final days in this contentious society of being allowed to not take a stand on the wrenching issues fake and real of our hysterical time. Our focus is art– the beauties, joys, simplicities and complexities of new literary art.
AT THE SAME TIME we’re not beyond creating fictional happenings about those same current political happenings– staying topical, as with our current feature from New Pop Lit‘s Editor: “The Perfect Candidate.”
(Do we contradict ourselves? We live in a three-dimensional world. Of course we contradict ourselves.)
THE STORY is an experiment at multidimensional writing, mixing viewpoints in an attempt to present a more rounded picture of the rather insane world we live in now. What’s the real story of the young would-be primary contender who seems to have all the answers?
As if on cue, the boy mayor faced him and began reciting several of his goals. Reasons he was considering entering the primaries. His eyes were focused, looking straight at Stewart Linton. A serious individual, Stewart thought. How old was he? According to his bio, thirty-seven. He looked younger.
(Art: Josef Capek, “Head”; Alexander Rodchecko, “Workers”)
A PART of the “pop” designation we’ve adopted is the word populist– which at its most basic level revolves in some way around the world of work. Few things in life are more intense than being thrust into the chaos of a new job– especially those of a low-wage variety. Particularly in the “do more with less” ethos of the 21st century. Hyper-efficiency in the work world be it high tech or fast food puts most of the onus on employees at the bottom of the hierarchy.
AS WE SEE in our latest feature story, “Hamburger Hill” by Irish writer John Higgins.
The manager came out of the office, finally, and strolled towards the grill. Her black shoes slapped off the lino and heralded her approach. She was a portly woman, and carried herself like a government minister, with her hairy arms crossed at the small of her back. To accompany the sound of her steps, she also tapped her knuckles against her palm. She smiled. Most of her teeth were hidden up in her gums, ashamed of their twisted form.
WE’RE EXCITED to present our first feature of the new decade– a subtly hilarious tale by GD Dess, “The Bayside Blonde,” about a blonde and a telephone. A telephone and a blonde. A dangerous combination! Presented as a puzzle of personality. An investigation.
I’ve never been married, but I came this close. Charlie. He was my man. He was the one. He was a bit like my father. Gallant. Sophisticated. He said he had waited all his life for me. He wanted to marry me. Have kids with me. We got engaged. Then he woke up with a back ache one morning, and three weeks later he was dead. I was devastated. I buried him. He’s with the lord now. We’re only here as a guest, G. When our time is up, it’s up. It’s not my fault.
(ART: “Girl Before a Mirror” by Pablo Picasso.)
Read and follow NEW POP LIT. . . .
ANOTHER blonde with a telephone:
NEW SHORT FICTION
WE ARE HERE at the end of another year bombarded with holiday cheer most of it forced many of us stressed to the max– so we thought we’d present new fiction which reflects a little of the reality of life today. The story is “Hangnail” by Alex Olson. Noteworthy about the story is how well Olson accomplishes what should be one of the objectives of new-style fiction: creating momentum and pace. Pace fueled by anger? So be it! Makes for a compelling, onrushing read.
You’re in a zone, a slim area between suicidal and manic, a hangnail sliver of delicious madness where you feel you can take on the world and kill yourself at the same time, all with a grin on your face. You thrive in this zone, this is your home–
(Art: “Anger” by Hans-Siebert von Heister; “The Wolves” by Franz Marc.)
AT A TIME of year when many of us are facing winter’s fury or at least cold gray skies trudging through bleak landscapes and simultaneously being bombarded with the cultural family social pressures bad music of the Christmas holidays, what could be more escapist than love in Naples?
Our new feature story aims toward exactly that, “The Date” by Robert Steward.
We hope you enjoy it!
I looked at her, at the way her mouth went, and the curve of her cheekbones, at her bluey-green eyes, the flecks of amber round her pupils, and at the way her hair fell over her eyes.
She caught me looking at her, and I felt something in the air between us, something pure, intense; it made me shiver inside.
(Art: “Eruption of Vesuvius” by Alessandro Sanquirico.)
Colder weather is upon us! Sooner than anyone expected. Which means it’s a good time for reading. At New Pop Lit we have several options for the discriminating reader.
FIRST is our new feature story, “Pretty Women Never Sit Next to Me on Airplanes” by Jason Feingold, a much-published short story writer making his first appearance with us. As its title indicates, it’s a quick tale about traveling. As so many of you will be traveling somewhere in the coming weeks, with the holidays nearly upon us, we believe you’ll find the story timely.
Age fourteen was my last good year. I’d peaked, and I never realized it until about fifteen minutes ago, because fifteen minutes ago is when I realized I’ll never have a renaissance.
WE ALSO offer a review of a controversial new book by Dana Schwartz, The White Man’s Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon. Does the book live up to the controversy?
FINALLY, we have at our NPL News blog (which presents the latest literary news, uncensored) an editorial about this past week’s layoffs at Bustle magazine. The editorial is bold. Don’t be thrown by it. As an upstart literary project with large ambitions, confidence in our project is the first requirement.
(Art by Heinrich Campendonk.)