Literature and the Underground

Feature

THIS WEEK we briefly explore the subculture of literature with our long-overdue final installment of Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age, in which we examine a diverse array of personalities from Bob Dylan to Aaron Cometbus, on up to underground writers of now– who create work just a tad rougher, wilder, and real than standard refined “literary” writing.

Accompanying the essay is a new story by one of our favorite zine writers, fishspit. The story is titled, “I Was a Juvenile Delinquent– Now I’m Just a Delinquent.”

Even the title wouldn’t make it through an MFA program!

Them teachers weren’t the sharpest set of educators. You had to be pretty doltish to wind up down there . . . nobody with an ounce of spirit, a dram of intelligence, would put up with that kind of horror-show. We were a regular freak show . . . the teachers were about as intelligent as carnies.

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(ONGOING at one of our blogs is the All-Time American Writers Tournament. The latest news there is an appreciation of a prominent American author by Samuel Stevens. Don’t miss a post!)

Hemingway and Pynchon?

Announcement

Pynchon and Hemingway? Could two writers be more dissimilar, yet, as slightly cracked and original American authors, so much the same?

PYNCHON APPRECIATED
First, see the latest Appreciation, this one by D. Greenhorn, at the All-Time American Writers Tournament.

HEMINGWAY DAY REVISITED
Second, as today is Ernest Hemingway’s 118th birthday, we invite readers to partake again of last year’s festivities, with discussion of his reputation here, and our “Searching for Hemingway” travelogue here. (An Appreciation of Hem by Samuel Stevens is upcoming next week.)
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We have much new stuff upcoming, including terrific new fiction from Clint Margrave, Wred Fright, Anne Leigh Parrish, and other familiar and unfamiliar names. Plus other surprises.

Until then, enjoy July– when dogs are sleeping, editors are lazy, and everyone should be reading New Pop Lit, the stay-cool literary site.

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.)

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!

House Pets of Literature

News

“House pets” may be too strong a term to refer to the twenty-one American novelists featured in Granta magazine’s new issue. BUT, with one potential exception, none of the twenty-one is out to shock the literary establishment with contrary viewpoints– or with new ways of looking at the literary art. That’s left for upstart outfits like ourselves.

The London/New York literary establishments have marshaled their resources to stress the importance of this Granta issue. In the U.S., Slate, The Millions, The Center for Fiction, Library Journal, L.A. Times, Lit Hug; Lucas Wittmann, Laura Miller, Nick Moran, Barbara Hoffert, Michael Schaub, Carolyn Kellogg, Emily Temple; all the usual critical advocates– to the prestigious Guardian newspaper in the U.K. WE alone present the other side of things.

The key in this world is seeing issues and subjects three-dimensionally. One should never accept without question a flat presentation. What the mandarins of culture wish you to see. You might miss what’s really happening.

And so, at our News blog, our perspective on the Granta issue. Worth a look.

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Also, please consider your candidates for the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Who’s your choice? If you have one, or several, email us with a name or names, reasons, or rationalizations. We’re at newpoplit AT gmail.com.

Thanks!

(Cat photo c/o Jamie Lockhart.)

Blow Up the Canon!?

Controversy

WHEN ONE CONSIDERS a project like our proposed “All-Time American Writers Tournament,” one bumps up against notions of the Canon. That collection of writers and literary works designated by the academy as worthy of preservation and study.

YET the world has changed so drastically the realization hits that for all its impact on society, there is no Canon. Or: no one cares. For the general public, a Neil Gaiman or Stephenie Meyer has more importance than a score of canonical writers. Names like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Pearl Buck barely register. Inside the classroom it’s hardly better, according to a college professor we know. The chief struggle is to keep students off their smartphones and have them read the assignments. Compared to the overwhelming noise of media found on phones, the internet, and television, of what impact is an assigned poem, play, or novel?

Professors themselves aren’t the respected figures they once were. A quaint person in a classroom– artifact from another era. Quickly forgotten.

So low is the standing of “Literature” in the culture that we ask ourselves, “Why bother?”

We’ll likely make the attempt regardless. An impossible task– to have readers become interested in dusty figures of history at a time when for most of the population there is no past, only NOW. A task but also a challenge. A test to see if the best writers, as personalities and talents, can be made interesting. Even provocative.

The Canon? Is there a Canon? Should writers today blow up all notion of a Canon? Or reinvent the Canon?

These are questions our tournament will address. . . .

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Meanwhile take a look at our new book review blog with sample review. We have several reviews of our favorite authors to put up– but are also looking for reviews, commentary, or gossip by others, short and to the point. Make it new. Make it exciting. Make it pop!

 

Pop Lit Style

Pop Lit Fiction

We’re stylists. We look for writers who are creating what we consider to be pop lit style. That elusive hybrid that’s both “pop” and “literature.”

One of the best of them is Calder Lorenz. His story for us, “The Good Road Gone,” has elements of noir combined with a terse style and a sense of the literary. Pop writing that means something. We think you’ll like it.

He heard the car door. He looked at the clock on the windowsill: 3:04. He smiled at that. He got the rifle and then he loaded the clip. He wore a gold medal around his neck: St. Anthony. It was a gift. Something lucky he’d gotten before he’d gone off.

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(Also read our News blog notice on Calder’s just-released novel.)

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Art by Sonia Delaunay.

 

Pushing Artistic Bounds

Pop Lit Fiction

We make the point again and again. In this noisy age literature in all its forms has to change. To become far more exciting– within the culture; to the general populace.

In Part III of our overview, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” we’ve profiled young writers who bring new perspectives to fiction. Who have the talent to reinvent the art. Few fit this designation better than Jess Mize, who’s been making noise across a variety of upstart lit sites. We have an excerpt from Jess’s novel-in-progress. Fittingly, the story is about reinvention.THEN stay tuned for a new profile of Jess and her writing, due in a few days.

At New Pop Lit, the future is NOW.

The young boy learned in one fell swoop of his powers and of the neurotic, mysterious trance of performance art. It was like seeing lightning strike a natural object right in front of your eyes, the electrical force penetrating your mind and becoming a live, vibrating current in the conduit of your brain waves.

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(Art by Jean Metzinger.)

Future Style

Pop Lit Fiction

At New Pop Lit we’re on a mad search for future writing styles– and for new styles for writers themselves. We foresee a changed literary landscape where writers’ personas are inseparable from their work. Once, writers were public figures. They deserve to be so again.

Which brings us to Lauren N. Jackson, third of our “Young Writers,” part of an long examination of literature today which we’re calling “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” The four examples we’re using are each extremely talented, albeit in markedly different ways.

Are there commonalities between the four of them? Yes!

First, their writing styles are striking and economical. A Pop Lit requirement.

Second, all of the four convey a sense of unease, even bewilderment, at the world before them.

This is the case with Lauren N. Jackson’s entry in our series, “The Spore Guild.”

Does art equal madness, and madness art? Read her tale and decide for yourself.

(THEN read commentary on Lauren and her writing, as we add to our “Hyper-Talents” essay. Be sure to scroll down.)

Now the question I’ve finally allowed on my lips is – what’s out there? What haunts us, hunts us, destroys us? How much longer do we have? Will I go truly mad? What if I already am? Perhaps my whole reality has shifted in my head and I only think I’m living my true life.

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(Art: “The Revolt” by Luigi Russolo.)

Cooler Writers?

Pop Lit Fiction

–in which we continue Part III, “The Young Writers,” of our overview of today’s literary scene, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” Continue reading the essay here, as we’ve added commentary about the second of four young writers to be profiled, Eli Cranor. THEN read Eli’s excellent short story about the teaching profession, “Five Minutes.”

As you’ll see, the question posed during this part of the essay is, “Can writers become cultural stars?” Our answer to the question is a resounding “YES!”– but we acknowledge it won’t be easy. Every cultural force has its beginnings. With the Beatles it was dive clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg. With revived literature, it might be right here. . . .

Mr. Koontz first few weeks at school had involved very little details. Instead there were a lot of situations like this: a large blonde woman sits down in front of you and she has a daughter, they look nice enough, but you can’t remember the girl’s name, not even a detail like her name.

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(Painting: “The Fate of the Animals” by Franz Marc.)