DURING THIS our Summer Reading Festival we’ve already run two of the best stories which could be found anywhere that inhabit the literary end of the pop-lit spectrum. Today we have a short story more on the pop end, “The Boiling Point of Placid Water” by Andrew Hughes.
In groping for new ways to write a short story, one of the variables to be considered is a story’s pace. This particular tale runs with the racing speed of a turbocharged vehicle, propelling the reader forward and not letting go until the conclusion. Are elements sacrificed? Interiority? Detail? Possibly– but remember as with an Impressionist painting, the mind fills in details based on its own experience. As compensation in the meaning department, we have the story’s inescapable political context. Also, with Puerto Rico, a distinct sense of place. Minimal trade-off for what’s gained.
The sum of it all is the creation, in a mere 2500 words, of a nightmarish world where nothing is stable or predictable. A whirlpool of surprise and terror. Kind of like the world we’re living in now.
Enjoy the experience!
“This is a bad idea,” said Guzman. They were dressed in their finest suits in the back of a limo.
“Carlos, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”
“José, he’s going to deny having any deals with Shell and you’re going to look like a colluder and bang, your public base is gone.”
“We have documents proving the connection.”
“Fuck your documents,” said Guzman.
(Featured art: “Force of a Curve” by Tullio Crali.)
Hello! We continue New Pop Lit‘s Summer Reading Festival with another excellent feature story that could/should be in The New Yorker (which I keep mentioning because it’s the only venue which still pays big $$$ for fiction, but this will change). The new story in question is “Symmetry” by Emil Birchman— another reason I mention that magazine in Manhattan is because our new feature has similarities to “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, the only short story published anyplace the last ten years which made a cultural impact. Birchman’s story is also about an awkward, budding relationship, but is better written and more subtle. In it’s own way, like a three-dimensional image in which one can see different things, based on viewpoint.
We ask the question: What do you think of this story? How do you take the ending? What really happened or is happening?
Among other themes, “Symmetry” is about online dating, and more, what phones, computers, and the internet do to relationships and the perception of reality. But let us know what you think.
Fifteen minutes later, they found themselves in the local park synonymous with M.’s dating profile. For some reason, the scenery didn’t have the vibrancy of the pictures. The leaves were green, and pollen clung to the air. But her images weren’t edited, that was for sure. No filters, photoshop or other picture editing shenanigans. And the scenery, the movements on the pond’s surface and the breeze pressing against the foliage were all real. The only difference was the absence of his own filter. . .
ALSO, be sure to stop by our POP SHOP to peruse the joys of non-online reading. Is there anything more exciting than finding a wonderful new publication, full of colors and stimulating reading, in your mailbox?
(Art: “A Girl Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)
WHAT MAKES A GOOD HALLOWEEN STORY?
A good Halloween story should be truly scary– or at the least, disturbing. Something which climbs inside your head to unsettle your dreams. Or magnify your nightmares.
Our Halloween presentation for 2018, “God, the Machine” by Travis Simpson, does not involve pumpkins, demons or goblins. The story features instead that most frightening of nature-or-God’s creations, the human mind. Set in a futuristic world swiftly becoming contemporary and real.
She imagines the room filling with water, their bodies floating inside, spilling whatever blood is still loose inside them free in billowing clouds, a little like the nebulous entity outside the craft. This is the will of God, who moves through all dimensions and put this plan in her life from the moment she was conceived.
(Art: “The Headless Horseman” by Ichabod Crane; “Controller of the Universe” by Diego Rivera.)
THE STRUGGLES OF A WRITER can seem lonely indeed– often resulting in rejection and neglect. Yet they keep at it, pursuing their art because they believe it’s important to express truths about life and the world.
When those struggles find notice– and a sense that a reader gets it, understands what the work’s about, this keeps the writer (and in our case, editors) going. No, the effort expended was not for naught!
Christopher Landrum at the literary site Bookbread has examined here four recent short stories, three of which appeared at New Pop Lit. They are:
–“The Fetus” by Clint Margrave.
–“Eighty Pounds” by Jon Berger.
–“The Professor” by A.K. Riddle.
If you’ve read these three excellent tales, they’re worth rereading. If you haven’t, please do so! Then see what Mr. Landrum says about them.
(Art: “The Passion of Creation” by Leonid Pasternak; “Woman Writing” by Gerard ter Borch.)
IS ANYONE looking for the New? Does anyone besides ourselves actually want and is actively searching for and creating the NEW?
Pop Lit is about discovery and synthesis. It’s about creating. About fusing two poles, in poetry’s case, of stasis and chaos. System and street. Bebop rhythm and wordplay, the energy of freedom combined with poetic learning, predecessors, history. IF the humanities mean anything (one hears massive nonsense about “the humanities”) it means nods to the past but not shackling institutionally the talents and voices of today.
TODAY we present fresh creations from young verse-master Timmy Chong— seven or nine poems depending upon how you count them– which he names “Twenty & Change.” Note his euphonious use of assonance, rhythm, occasional rhyme, with urban/suburban themes, a hip-hop feel– but it’s not hip-hop– and with tricks absorbed from past masters like Plath or Berryman– but it’s not like anything they wrote either. It’s only, hyperbolically-speaking, where poetry needs to go. Where it needs to be, in 2018, or 2020.
Boy got them low eyes,
got that good lip
reeking purple like periques.
Says when the plug dry
AS PART of our Poetry Attack! we’re soliciting audio for our ongoing Open Mic, at Club New Pop Lit. (Think neon letters reflected on a rainy Detroit-or-Philly street.) The club is imagination but the voices are real. (Well, maybe not Ms. Hepburn’s.) COMING within days or hours to the club is spectacularly talented Detroit-area poetess Erin Knowles Chapman with a reading ostensibly about a bowling alley.
Exciting things are happening. Just saying.
(1st public domain action painting is by Michael Philip. 2nd public domain “spin art” painting is by German artist calling self Kungfuman.)
New talent? WHO is devoted to new writing talent?
WE are! As we seek to move the center of literature out of the golden island of Manhattan, we’re hearing from new writers from the heartland of this country. Our plan: To showcase talented writers before they approach or cross the many barriers erected by the established publishing industry. To spotlight the best new writers first, before anyone else locates them.
Toward that end we present Two Flash Fiction works about life today by Alexander Olson. One is about consumerism. The other is about a dying relative. Both different– expressing emotions ranging from cynicism to compassion. Both are thought provoking.
She didn’t deserve me gazing at the floor, wondering vaguely if it was always like this. She deserved movie-quality sadness. Broadway-level grief.
Be sure to check out all the many other things happening at our site– audio; reviews; news. An easy way is to click on the drop-down menu at “All Other” on this page. Thanks!
(Featured painting: “Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Bocklin.)
RELATIONS between men and women have been under stress the last several months as never before. Fiction is proving to be the best forum for examining those tensions. Under the guise of the non-factual the writer is able to get to actual truths.
ONE OF THE BEST writers on the topic of men and women– one of the best American short story writers period– is Anne Leigh Parrish. We’re privileged to have another short work from her– short, but as always, with condensed impact. The tale is called “The First Time.” We hope you find it as striking a work of reality and art as we do– and that if this is the first, it not be the last time you come to our site!
I was stunned. Not that we might one day regret our liaison, but that you regretted it now.
(Featured art: “Ashes” by Edvard Munch.)
ANOTHER YEAR and this project is still going. A victory in itself.
What do we have planned for the New Year?
Many ideas are on the New Pop Lit drawing board. The trick will be implementing them. This will take time, resources, opportunity and energy. Not lacking is will. Keep watching– one never knows what we’ll be up to.
In the meantime read our latest book review, on the futuristic Robin Wyatt Dunn poem-novel Debudaderrah.
* * * *
(Painting: “The City” by Fernand Leger.)
WE TALK OFTEN here at New Pop Lit headquarters about Hemingway’s “True Gen”: How to define it and how to find it– the thread of thought provoked by the death of singer-songwriter Pat Dinizio , long-time front man of working-class New Jersey rock band The Smithereens.
The band never quite hit the big time– yet were the genuine article, creating simple strong passionate art. This took us to a low rent same-named work from another medium: Susan Seidelman’s classic (?) indie film about the 1980’s punk scene: “Smithereens.”
The genuine is a quest, not always a destination. The search for the authentic involves the artist getting as close as possible to real experience– to find the true moment, the genuine emotion.
How do we find new writing of piercing reality?
By being open to it. This week we present a short story of tough background and authentic emotion, “Eighty Pounds” by Michigan writer Jon Berger. It’s about high school, classes, cliques, class, drugs, jobs, work: life. Not Manhattan literary slickness. Instead: reality, truth, grit. Read it.
Those guys in there, it’s like they knew how to size me up. Guys in the world, like Will, they only saw that I was in dumb classes and that I didn’t play sports or they saw where I lived and they thought that was my size.
(Painting: “The Boulevard” by Gino Severini.)
SOME wordsmiths escape into fantasy– into lands of werewolves, warlocks, and dragons– which we’re fine with, up to a point. Other, more serious writers depict today’s world as it exists.
“Start and Stop” by Gregory Yelnish is an unglamorized glimpse at reality, written in a style almost three-dimensional in its ability to show the reader its restricted stage of a room and the two troubled individuals within it. A young man. A young woman. Life today? Words as reality. Writing as art. Only from New Pop Lit.
Bright green paint on her toenails showed the stresses of wear. The discolored patches of skin leered at him as if they were alive. They had hollow faces, taunting him, shouting obscenities in a perverse version of her golden voice.
(Paintings: “Bedroom” by Vassily Kandinsky; “Girl with Blonde Hair” by Helene Schjerfbeck.)