What makes a celebrity? A star? What gives the person a special allure? Distance, illusion, mystery?
This is a question explored in our new fiction feature, “Fanboy” by Alan Swyer, set in the alluring capitol of glamorous stars, Hollywood circa today.
Incidentally or ironically, Alan Swyer is one of the literary stars featured in New Pop Lit‘s own modest version of a Photoplay-like fanmag, namely, Literary Fan Magazine. Is it time to create a literary version of Hollywood? Maybe!
Meanwhile, read the story.
“Why today? If so much stuff’s been bugging you, why’ve you been holding it in?”
Allison frowned. “I reached a point where enough is enough. But know what bothers me most? Not your snoring, not that you put your feet on furniture, not even that half the time you seem oblivious. Want to know?”
(Both artworks by famed illustrator Rolf Armstrong.)
“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.)
AMERICA as a culture and civilization has centered itself around celebrities, for good and ill. Electronic gods coming to us through our televisions and computer screens. Who are these facsimiles of people? What are these personalities– these manufactured(?) personas– actually like?
Our new feature, “Jerry and Me” — by long-time Hollywood writer, director, and producer Alan Swyer— looks at one of the leading Hollywood-and-Vegas celebrities of the 20th century, comedian Jerry Lewis– best remembered today as forever host of the Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethons. A comic genius, but at the same time an extremely complicated, many-faceted individual. A contradictory personality which Swyer well captures in his up-close-and-personal memoir of the man.
His agents did nothing but, as he put it, “blow smoke up my ass,” telling him incessantly what he wanted to hear, which was how wonderful he was. Even worse were the staffers at his office in Century City, whose primary functions, other than fawning relentlessly, were doing his bidding and, when he felt the need to vent over something real or imagined, bearing the brunt of his wrath.
WHICH raises the question of celebrity in the literary scene. Is there a place for it? Does the art lose by not creating larger-than-life figures who can stand as blazing symbols attracting new readers to a marginalized cultural form? Is this possible? Desirable?
Those are questions we at New Pop Lit are determined to answer.
(Art: “Animal Clown” by James Pollock; “Marilyn Monroe” by Andy Warhol.)
THE SUBJECT of editorial independence has come up within the literary world much of late– especially with the recent ouster of Ian Buruma at New York Review of Books.
TO STAY topical we present a new short story from that always entertaining observer of American business, manners, and culture, Alan Swyer. His new tale, “The Sage,” looks at creative smarts and editorial independence within the film industry– a business Alan Swyer knows much about.
CAN Swyer’s lead character, a movie maker named Tarlowe, rescue a troubled film project involving a difficult celebrity wise man– and maintain his integrity while doing so? An inside look at a tumultuous world.
The non-stop travel, coupled with interviews that ranged from eye-opening to scintillating, proved to be a dizzying experience. But even as he reported in periodically, informing his benefactor about what had been said, and by whom, a question kept gnawing at Tarlowe. How would the man who billed himself as The Sage, but who came off in person like a somewhat epicene song-and-dance man, fit in among such luminaries?
(Art: “Burning the Darkness” by Nicholas Roerich.)
OUR LAST featured story was about chess. With our new feature we’re staying on the theme of strategy and challenge, with Alan Swyer’s “Shut Up and Deal,” an examination of the machinations behind high-level poker playing. It’s a story about protege and mentor. About novice and knowledge. About learning a skill in the face of mind games and chaos. In other words, it’s a metaphor for life!
Written in a fast “pop” style, the story matches the speed of the game– and the hyperbolic process a student must undergo to be a success. We hope you enjoy it!
Radiating old money, the card room was a world which few civilians ever got to experience. Yet in the midst of captains of industry and scions of prominent families sat Eddie, who was seemed to be regarded as somehow less than human.
(Art: “The Card Players” by Theo van Doesburg.)
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.”
A different take on the American Dream from our previous story is Alan Swyer’s entertaining tale, “Only in America.” The mob meets high society. Who is Whitney St. Clair anyway? What is he doing, and why is he doing it? Find out!
Despite the fact that he could never quite shake the constant fear and trembling at 3 AM that his days as Whitney St. Clair might be numbered, the weeks that followed were a rollercoaster ride the likes of which the guy formerly known as Mickey Rose would never have even dared imagine.
We’ve got a zinger for you this morning folks, Alan Swyer takes us behind the scenes in the glamorous, duplicitous world of Stage Magicians! Not all is as it seems in Magic.
Brought in as a consultant because of his experience unmasking charlatans and debunking cons, the man known to the world as Roger the Remarkable – and to his friends simply as Roger Barnes – came up with rules and guidelines that were swiftly adopted by scores of corporations, then embraced by law enforcement agencies far and wide.
A compilation of old adages: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is; pearls of wisdom: When given a specific name at a company as a reference, check instead with someone else in that person’s department; and fresh takes: Cynicism is man’s foremost line of defense; it listed ten key points for fiscal survival. The most important? Haste not only makes waste, it also breeds disaster!