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.
(Art: “Demon Seated” by Mikhail Vrubel.)
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.)
We’re on a mystic hunt for better everything, including better language, better writing, better art. Are those unicorns which don’t exist– or can they exist with the right drive, plans, imagination? Latest in our quest is a poem by Chris Vola, “Impractical Taxidermy.” His view of the world and this crazy society encompasses plants, personas, rap, bulldogs, video chat, Whole Foods– and a whole lot else. We think you’ll enjoy it.
your eyes as downtrodden
as my social media presence
frozen fingernails waiting to flatten me
like last birthday’s Perrier-Jouët
against the darkening pavement
(Art: “Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn” by Martin Schongauer.)
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.)
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.
(Art: “Table in a Cafe” by Pablo Picasso.)
ANOTHER TALENTED ZEENITH WRITER
Holly Day is one of the poets featured in ZEENITH (available here).
How talented a poet is she?
We now have three other poems of hers readily available to read at our site: “Summer Love and Other Poems.”
They show a wide variety of themes. Each of them give a piece of a picture of the crazy sad beautiful world we live in now, and so their overall effect, one might say, is three-dimensional. Worth reading, if you love summer, love life, love words:
I hear radio reports reporting, television shows broadcasting
school janitors with secret torture chambers
and I wonder how they can ask me
(Art: “Composition V” by Wassily Kandinsky.)
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!
an experiment in new publishing
WHAT IS ZEENITH?
ZEENITH is our newest print publication, now available exclusively at our POP SHOP.
You’ve never seen anything like it.
INCLUDING “I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE YOU SICK”
THE ONLY good thing which can be said about a pandemic– there’ve been many over the centuries– is that it occasionally inspires or encourages due to lockdowns the creation of great art. Has any been created during this pandemic, this lockdown?
We have three very good poems by L.A. poet Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, which capture the reality of life in America now. Worth reading.
I see Gary for the first
time since the pandemic.
He is still living
in the streets,
looking a little
He tells me Luis,
can you help me
out with some money
to get a coffee,
some sugar, or
a cigar? I’m not
going to make you
sick, I promise.
ALSO, don’t forget to purchase a copy of Extreme Zeen at our POP SHOP
(Another high quality, hand-crafted print journal is in development as I type this.)
(Art: “The Fifth Plague of Egypt” by Joseph M.W. Turner, and “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel.)
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.
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, so they 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.
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!