Literary Opinion

book review, Opinion

OUR OP-ED PAGE RETURNS

We are a free speech literary site. Which means an ability and willingness to express dissenting opinions. This includes dissenting opinions about literature.

TODAY we bring back our opinion page as an outlet, we hope, for a variety of opinions and criticism from all directions about today’s literary world and the products of that world. Starting with a biting review by G.D. Dess of Ben Lerner’s much-hyped novel, The Topeka School.

Holden’s voice echoes in your mind long after you put down the novel, whereas Adam’s voice becomes inaudible the minute you turn the last page.

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(Art: “Brooklyn Bridge” by Joseph Stella, created 100 years ago.)

 

Carnival Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

A MARDI GRAS STORY

Great 19th century novelists such as Victor Hugo, Charlotte Bronte, and Alexandre Dumas would often put a big scene of a carnival parade into their books. The feeling of uninhibited revelry, chaos, even madness was a way of heightening emotion and consolidating plot threads– as if the true hidden nature of their characters came out– came alive– amid the colors, music, drinking and shouting. 

WE HAVE today in time for Mardi Gras 2020 a short story centered around carnival time in New Orleans, and it’s a good one: “Cracks” by Wilson Koewing. The story of course is about more than a parade. It’s about a relationship– more, it’s about life, about love, about being human and filled with the kind of chaotic mad emotions we flawed creatures are prone to. Put on your Mardi Gras mask and plunge in.

As we close in on St. Charles, the din of the crowd materializes. Carnival food smells ride on the breeze. You sense the impending madness. It rushes slowly, not towards you. You enter. It surrounds you. And you’re inside. There is a wall, and when it envelops you, there is no escape.

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(ART: “The Peacock” by Natalia Goncharova.)

Haunted by Ghosts

Pop Lit Fiction

NEW FICTION

“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.”

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(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.”)

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(Art: “Odysseus in the Land of the Dead” by N.C. Wyeth.)

Love and Its Aspects

Pop Lit Fiction

THE SEARCH FOR LOVE

We all need it, we all want it, and those who’ve rejected the concept have built iron walls around their hearts to keep it out– so deadly to them is the fear of not being loved. Cynicism masks a thousand heartaches.

OUR ONLY ADVICE is: keep trying. The right person is out there for everyone, sometimes discovered when you’re not watching.

Is this the message of our new feature story, “A Wild Feeling” by Anne Leigh Parrish?

Well, kind of. . . .

He asks where love goes. She doesn’t know. She’s never known. Out there somewhere, with the waves and the sand. Maybe that’s what the gulls sing about every day, as they glide aloft.

emil nolde in the lemon grove 2

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(Art: “Large Poppies” and “In the Lemon Grove” by Emil Nolde.)

Politics 2020

Pop Lit Fiction

THE QUESTION OF POLITICAL FICTION

IS all art political? Can it be? MUST it be?

WE ARE NOT a political web site, though the storms of politics rage on all sides around us– and though we may (or may not) be in the final days in this contentious society of being allowed to not take a stand on the wrenching issues fake and real of our hysterical time. Our focus is art– the beauties, joys, simplicities and complexities of new literary art.

AT THE SAME TIME we’re not beyond creating fictional happenings about those same current political happenings– staying topical, as with our current feature from New Pop Lit‘s Editor: “The Perfect Candidate.”

(Do we contradict ourselves? We live in a three-dimensional world. Of course we contradict ourselves.)

THE STORY is an experiment at multidimensional writing, mixing viewpoints in an attempt to present a more rounded picture of the rather insane world we live in now. What’s the real story of the young would-be primary contender who seems to have all the answers?

As if on cue, the boy mayor faced him and began reciting several of his goals. Reasons he was considering entering the primaries. His eyes were focused, looking straight at Stewart Linton. A serious individual, Stewart thought. How old was he? According to his bio, thirty-seven. He looked younger.

alexander rodchenko workers>><<<<>>>>

(Art: Josef Capek, “Head”; Alexander Rodchecko, “Workers”)

Working in the 21st Century

Pop Lit Fiction

A PART of the “pop” designation we’ve adopted is the word populist– which at its most basic level revolves in some way around the world of work. Few things in life are more intense than being thrust into the chaos of a new job– especially those of a low-wage variety. Particularly in the “do more with less” ethos of the 21st century. Hyper-efficiency in the work world be it high tech or fast food puts most of the onus on employees at the bottom of the hierarchy.

AS WE SEE in our latest feature story, “Hamburger Hill” by Irish writer John Higgins.

The manager came out of the office, finally, and strolled towards the grill. Her black shoes slapped off the lino and heralded her approach. She was a portly woman, and carried herself like a government minister, with her hairy arms crossed at the small of her back. To accompany the sound of her steps, she also tapped her knuckles against her palm. She smiled. Most of her teeth were hidden up in her gums, ashamed of their twisted form.

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Poetry in Nature

Poetry

NEW POETRY 2020

POETS traditionally have written about their relationship with nature– undoubtedly because it’s when we’re in nature, communing with the actual world, that the music of poetry comes naturally into our heads. The oldest art? The art most attuned to the rhythms of the world and the universe. Or the mind of the universe.

Our first poetry feature of the new decade spotlights that relationship: “Into the Depths of the Trees”  by C.A. Shoultz. We hope you like it.

I wandered further, past the noise of cars,

Until great silence came around my ears,

And I could feel the hairs raise on my neck. . .

NataliaGoncharovaTheForest

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(Featured art: “The Park at Carrieres-Saint-Denis” by Georges Braque; “The Forest” by Natalia Goncharova.)

Who Is the Bayside Blonde?

Pop Lit Fiction

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WE’RE EXCITED to present our first feature of the new decade– a subtly hilarious tale by GD Dess, “The Bayside Blonde,” about a blonde and a telephone. A telephone and a blonde. A dangerous combination! Presented as a puzzle of personality. An investigation.

I’ve never been married, but I came this close. Charlie. He was my man. He was the one. He was a bit like my father. Gallant. Sophisticated. He said he had waited all his life for me. He wanted to marry me. Have kids with me. We got engaged. Then he woke up with a back ache one morning, and three weeks later he was dead. I was devastated. I buried him. He’s with the lord now. We’re only here as a guest, G. When our time is up, it’s up. It’s not my fault.

THE BLONDE!-page-001 - Edited

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(ART: “Girl Before a Mirror” by Pablo Picasso.)

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Read and follow NEW POP LIT. . . .

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ANOTHER blonde with a telephone:

Welcome 2020

Announcement

ANOTHER GOLDEN DECADE?

HAPPY 2020!-page-001 - Edited

THE LAST iteration of the Twenties became famous for its writers– who defined the times. The literary art reigned as the most important cultural happening.

The name of the era was popularized by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald as “The Jazz Age.” He and his talented and flamboyant wife Zelda embodied the era.

scott and zelda

The decade also saw the formidable debut of another literary star from the American Midwest, that unassuming individual Ernest Hemingway– who was to become the most renowned American author of all.

hem and friends

THE QUESTION is whether our decade, the 2020s, will see a revival of the art– so that literary fiction becomes once again glamorous and popular.

At New Pop Lit we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure this takes place.

Where_there's_smoke_there's_fire_by_Russell_Patterson

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(Art: “Cubist Composition” by Nadezhda Udaltsova; “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Russell Patterson.)

Tale of the Christmas Bear

flash fiction

(REPRISE OF A NEW POP LIT CHRISTMAS STORY.)

jamestissotthejourneyofthemagi

THREE MEN were having trouble lugging their packages across the desert from afar, and came across a depressed bear. Depressed because there wasn’t much to do for a bear in the desert. A bear in a desert? Anyway, the bear was feeling purposeless and alone, and didn’t know if he could “bear it” much longer.

“Why oh why oh why oh why?” he asked, in bear talk.

The three men saw the bear lying in the sand, moaning, with his paws over his head. The three looked at one another.

 “After all, it is Christmas,” one of them said, with a perplexed look in his eyes.

“Yes, it is,” one of the other three said.

 “Yes!” said the third. “It truly is. It really really is.”

 He took his smartphone from his robes and looked at it. Yep, there it was. December 24th. Christmas Eve. Year 0000.

“It’s decided then,” the three said simultaneously, and wondered that the three of them, each from a separate faraway land, had said the same thing.

So together in one voice they asked the despondent animal if he’d like to try “bearing” something useful– their heavy packages of gold, frankincense, and myrrh– to a destination in Bethlehem. The packages were in fact quite heavy and overburdening the camels. Encountering the bear was a fortunate occurrence. Almost miraculous. The bear gladly agreed, as the three men seemed particularly wise to him. He’d seen men before, who were not wise. Not wise at all. But these men were.

The little caravan continued on to Bethlehem until they found shepherds and animals congregated outside a tiny stable behind an inn. The three wise men strode in, bearing their gifts, while the bear quietly crept in behind them and took a place in the straw beside the other animals, who were first alarmed because, after all, he was a bear. But then they looked at the baby and weren’t alarmed at all.

 From that day forward the bear was always forever more a happy bear.

 THE END

fraangelicaoadorationofthemagi

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from New Pop Lit!

 -Karl Wenclas and Kathleen M. Crane
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(Paintings: “The Journey of the Magi” by James Tissot; “Adoration of the Magi” by Fra Angelico.)