Double Controversy

All-Time American Writers Tournament

NOW we’ve stepped into it! Two literary controversies at one time, both of them connected to the All-Time American Writers Tournament. (We’ve been offering exclusive coverage of the tourney here.)

FIRST is the seldom-discussed matter of T.S. Eliot. Where lies his allegiance? America or Britain? Is Eliot considered a British poet– or an American one? Where should lie our allegiance? Contribute to the discussion, if you dare– should you care– here.

SECOND, we believe we’ve thrown new and historic light on the friendship between the two biggest names in American literary history, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. How deep went their feud? WAS Scott a passive actor– a simple punching bag; on the receiving end of Ernest’s shots and scorns– as our nation’s most esteemed lit critics seem to believe? Or did Fitzgerald get his shots in against one-time protégé Hemingway– not once, but twice?

Are we prepared to take on the entire U.S. lit-crit establishment over this issue?

YES!

Read about the matter here.

State-of-the-art thinking about writing and writers, letters and words, only at New Pop Lit.
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(Public domain image of Ritz Bar in Paris with photo of Scott Fitzgerald.)

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Four American Writers

All-Time American Writers Tournament

#2 Tournament Seeds

Make that Four GREAT American Writers. . . .

With our latest entrants into the big Tournament, discussed here, we have something to displease everyone. We live in hysterical times when everyone across the ideological spectrum is displeased by something.

Reminder:  We’re still one America. There yet exists that magical idea known as American literature; best expression of the American Dream– as we argue in the essay accompanying our announcement.

But:  Another Big Four. What do you think of them? Anyone among the Four to love? Anyone to hate?

there’s no “white” literature or “black” literature, or this division or that one. There’s only American literature.

Of Maps and Melvilles

All-Time American Writers Tournament

One of our favorite lines from Herman Melville’s magical novel Moby Dick is this one:

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

Melville was speaking about the novel form itself. He could as well have been referring to our Tournament. Appropriate, then, that Herman Melville is the third #1 seed entered into the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Read our reasons for his selection– and discover the fourth #1, here.

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Since our theme with this post is the novel, we’ve also written a short review of the latest novel by Samuel Stevens, Lone Crusader. The American has traditionally been a seeker. An adventurer. Melville wrote about this kind of person. So does Stevens.

Adventure was once in the American bloodstream, was long a key component of American writing. “Literary” fiction of the New York/Iowa variety has long discounted this component. Today, we at New Pop Lit celebrate it.

Happy reading!

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.”)

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. . . .