Who’s Good Enough?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

el cid tournament

Who’s good enough to make the tournament? Certain writers are gimmes– but 64 spots, when you start listing writers, isn’t a lot. The New Pop Lit Competition Committee hasn’t decided if there will be a play-in game. Who should we start thinking about?

Sinclair Lewis? Anne Sexton? Pearl Buck? David Mamet? Zora Neale Hurston? Fanny Hurst? Maya Angelou? John “The Mummy” Updike? Charlie Bukowski? Ezra Pound? Carl Sandburg? Gertrude Stein? Sherwood Anderson? Truman Capote? Zane Grey? Herman Wouk? James Jones? James Baldwin? Ray Bradbury? James Cain? James Fenimore Cooper? Harriet Beecher Stowe? Isaac Asimov? Ayn Rand? Mario Puzo? John Berryman? Bernard Malamud? Richard Wright? Ray Carver? Raymond Chandler? Lillian Hellman? Mary McCarthy? Katherine Anne Porter? Any contemporary poets? Any fantasy writers? Let’s have some names!

In the meantime, we’ll start on the easy part– the #1 seeds. Coming next.

(Image from the 1961 classic movie, “El Cid.”)

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By Dictate or Argument?

Announcement

SO MUCH of what’s considered literature today is run by dictate, that we hope at some point with the All-Time American Writers Tournament to do things differently.

The recent Granta issue of “Young American Novelists” is an example. Four well-placed judges decided the matter– then word came down from on high. “You WILL accept these selections culled mainly from those given us by the Big 5 conglomerate book companies.”

It’s how the system is run and how it’s always been run. Tops-down in every aspect. The professor tells you, “You WILL appreciate these authors, no matter how stuffy, irrelevant, meaningless, or boring they may be.”

Recent p.c. changes in the university have scarcely altered this– only the names mandated to be appreciated have changed.

The student, like the hapless consumer of Granta, has no say. The decision runs always, always one way.

castro

As many have noted, the situation, in academia and the greater intellectual community, has become ever more totalitarian. There is one accepted ideology. One acceptable set of ideas. One way of thinking.

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We’ll be setting up our brackets for the Tournament with a new mix, according to our best judgment and the standards we’ve outlined– but we don’t pretend to have all the answers. We’d like to receive throughout the course of the Tournament suggestions and arguments about which writers should be included– from writers, general readers, and elite critics alike. If “literature” is to be a living thing and not just an authoritarian dictate, names and ideas should come from everybody.

The All-Time American Writers Tournament will be at our Interactive blog, previously used for fun stuff and pop poetry. (Which we’ll still sneak in on occasion.) Here’s format information. Here’s other tourney info.

We’re at newpoplit AT gmail.com.

#1 seeds are upcoming. . . .

March Literary Madness?

Announcement

AMERICA is captivated by the ongoing NCAA basketball tournament. Office pools choosing winners and losers have made their picks. Tremendous interest in the sport thereby generated.

What if there were a writers tournament?

And so, we’ll soon begin at this site the semi-fictional “All-Time American Writers Tournament,” pitting novelists against playwrights against poets to decide WHO is the best of them all.

Would such a tournament work?

Only if others contribute– in aligning the brackets and judging the contests.

Hemingway against Updike? Mary McCarthy versus Joyce Carol Oates? It could be competitive and fun.

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The question arises: IS there such thing as American literature?

The nation was far into its history before its literature was taken seriously by the rest of the world– only when it became the true voice of the land and the people; ALL the American people. It’d be crazy to throw that away.

Our literature has been expressed through a diverse collection of writers who are uniquely American. Melville to Millay. Emerson to Ellison. Beecher Stowe to Maya Angelou.

Stay tuned.

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(We’ll also be getting back to our other ongoing feature, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” very soon.)

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(Artwork by Jacques-Louis David.)

 

The Young Writers: Overview Part III

Feature, Pop Lit Fiction

Our series on new happenings in today’s literary world continues. “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.”

Part III looks at the new generation of writers– literature’s hope and future. We were going to call this section “The Lost,” as a nod to the Lost Generation of the 1920’s, a huge influence on a couple of the best young writers we’ll be featuring. We decided that designation was too downbeat. We’re optimists. We might as likely call this section “The Found”– talented individuals who found writing as their preferred means of expression, when they might instead have been painters or musicians or movie directors.

(Of course, there are no longer painters; musicians are reduced to the atonal or electronic, the human element cut out. Movies? Are there still movies to speak of? The Academy Awards are this weekend, and by all accounts contain not an outstanding crop.)

No, the future belongs to writers– to new literature. We kick off this part of our overview with a new story by Samuel Stevens, “Greener Country Grass.” This will be followed by new work by three other young talents, as fast as we can ready and post them.

Despite his youth (he’s still in college), Samuel Stevens is a thinker, essayist, and novelist, as well as writing in the shorter form. Definitely a name on the literary scene for years to come. Read his story now.

“Do you have a lot of money like Ray?” one of them asked.

She took me aback. “No,” I said. Ray did come from a well off family. The girls were all a little drunk; Loeb must have been keeping them supplied while I talked to the bartender. I pulled up a chair and sat down.

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(Painting: “The Red Tower” by Robert Delaunay.)

Ballyhoo Nation

Opinion

We haven’t posted an Op-Ed in a while. Is there a better day for it than one of the more contentious days in American history?

We contend this commentary from New Pop Lit editor Karl Wenclas is an objective look at events, in the context of a realistic view of American history. Feel free to disagree!

Making noise and screaming for the benefit of television cameras is who we are.