FINDING A BETTER MODEL
WHICH elements will be required to create “hit” short stories that can grab the attention of large swaths of the public?
Some of them are present in our latest short story by Nick Gallup, “Just Another Silly Love Song.” Such as: two dynamic lead characters with strikingly different personalities; tangible details used to emphasize those personalities (a red Corvette; a black cocktail dress); a well-structured and unified plot with built-in conflict, nothing extraneous, which maintains focus throughout– and much else.
Add to these elements a sense of depth: the two lead characters displaying, well, character– the ability to move beyond themselves in helping others– and you have for the reader a perfect mix. Oh, did I also mention the element of love? That ultimate ingredient in crafting compelling art?
But the best way to know what we’re talking about is to read the story.
Roxy looked a mess. She took note of my looking and correctly interpreted my conclusions. “Sorry I don’t look party-perfect, Ty,” she said sarcastically, with heavy emphasis on Ty, as if it were an affectation. “An unexpected problem came up. I had to don a cap and gown and wash all my make-up off to avoid infection.” She held up slender hands. “Want to know where these have been for the past two hours?”
(Art: “Return of a Night Bombing Flight of Voisin Aircraft” by Francois Flemeng.)
HAVE WE ALL LOST OUR MINDS?
ELECTRONIC MEDIA has graced us with bombardments of information coming at us from all directions, all sides, stimulating our curiosity at the same time making us believe we’re missing something if we don’t remain plugged in– and we’re all plugged in. The digital world, brilliantly described in Oliver Bennett‘s new short fiction piece, “On the Origin of An Event,” our newest feature. A descent into– ? You know the analogy.
—he would wake up early, quickly dip into the news as he waited for the kettle to boil, then try to stay up to date on everything throughout the day, immersing himself in international relations on the toilet, taking a deep dive into the history of every major world power on the tube to work, and even the smaller countries in a brief lull between meetings, and he would wade through an article on finance while waiting for the office microwave to ping– credit swaps, interest rates, collateral debt obligations, inflation, deflation, stagflation…
We haven’t run many features this year, but they’ve all been terrific.
Of course, the pandemic with its lockdowns and Zoom sessions has only accelerated the retreat from the actual.
IS there escape from the madness? A question we’ve begun exploring as we consider the future of this project and try to plot out what 2021 for us, and for everybody, will look like.
Enjoy the story!
(Art: “The Unfortunate Land of Tyrol” by Franz Marc; “Stormtroopers” by Otto Dix.)
WHO LOVES A BALLOON?
“Everybody Loves a Balloon” is the title of our newest feature story by Mather Schneider, about a balloon ride. Who doesn’t want to go on a balloon ride? What could possibly go wrong?
The basket was six feet wide by six feet long by four feet deep. The four of them loaded in. It was as intimate as an elevator. The fire from the burner hissed upwards.
ALSO check out the new review– “Is the Best Good Enough” — up at our NEWS blog, of a new novel by award-winning author Darin Strauss. In this instance, more than a simple book review.
(Art: “Large Balloons” and “Balloon Painting” by Eugene Godard.)
FEATURING A ZEENITH WRITER
Today we break with a hammer one of our set-in-stone rules. (In the past we preferred not to reprint previous published work. In this case it’s for a good cause– to promote our new literary print zeen: ZEENITH.)
ONE of our featured writers in ZEENITH is Chrissi Sepe— who gave us for it an exotic excerpt from her upcoming novel, Taming Jaguars. (The mentioned jaguars are exotic creatures indeed.) To showcase Chrissi’s talent, we now present at this our online site centerpiece of our project an exotic Sepe short story, “We Love to Watch Zee Cockroaches,” which illustrates the same sharp powers of observation and wry humor exhibited in the excerpt.
(WHILE the story has not appeared online, it was included in an excellent collection of poetry and fiction, Howls from the Underground, produced by Tony and Nicole Nesca, the multi-talented duo at Screamin’ Skull Press. A collection we reviewed here.)
AS A BONUS, Sepe’s story is illustrated by vispo arts innovator Laura Kerr— who incidentally was herself featured in the Screamin’ Skull collection. An array of talented connections.
(c/o Laura Kerr.)
THE BOTTOM LINE is we welcome informal collaborations if they involve the promotion of ART, literary, visual, and otherwise, which is what we’re about. Or that we’ll do what it takes to promote THIS project, and to announce the talented writers in ZEENITH! (Who we’ll have more to say about in days to come.)
Read the story!
He and Karina sat together on their black leather couch across from the black leather couch Denny and I sat on. “We bore so easily,” Tomas continued. “New York City is sometimes boring. That’s why we just booked a flight. We’ll be in Paris by this time tomorrow.”
Then see more photos of ZEENITH at our POP SHOP!
AS our last feature in April we present writing from rising young literary star Aaron H. Aceves which opens with a poem in the narrator’s head– then tells the story behind the poem. The story involves a woman, but is also about the setting. A club, in downtown Los Angeles, and the people occupying it– and the feeling evoked, within the narrator and inside us.
A story? A poem? A painting? Read “The Look” and judge for yourself.
I watched her watching them for a while. I could have watched her all night long.
Long, shiny hair. Flawless skin. Winged eyeliner. A boyfriend.
I have a thing for unavailable women.
(Art: “L’Equipe de Cardiff” by Robert Delaunay; “The Soldier Drinks” by Marc Chagall.)
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”)