Literary Montage

Pop Lit Fiction

EXPERIMENTS IN FICTION

Call it montage, or the 3-D or multidimensional story, or literary polyphony, the point remains the same: To get away from the linear, one point-of-view, one-tense format in short story writing, which allows for little variety. The solution? To innovate.

Our new feature, “Waiting for the Superhero”— about a man trying to survive in a tough urban landscape– is an attempt to do so. The story plays with viewpoint– to increase angles– and with time. The trick is to do this without hindering the flow of the narrative. Indeed, if well utilized, the technique will increase drama and pace.

Putting fragments of writing together– like editing film– isn’t simple, but opens up endless creative possibilities. Expect to see us go way beyond what we’re showing to date. Just saying.

He moved into the basement of a nearby vacant building. The several-storied structure was in receivership; kept by the bank which owned it in a modicum of shape. There, Ernesto created a cave. An escape. A small window, easily pried, provided access.

The first night he noticed a visitor in the form of a pair of green eyes. A cat.

In daylight he realized the cat was more or less black. Ernesto adopted its guise. So garbed, in the evening he became invisible, blending into the night.

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(Art: “Night Over the City” by Otto Dix.)

Book Chat!

book review

HELLO! We’ve revived our book review/book chat blog to feature a brilliant review by Ross Taylor, of an amazing new book by avant-garde musician Robyn Hitchcock.

Ever since John Lennon mentioned marmalade skies (or since Robert Johnson said a woman is like a dresser) songwriters have embraced modernist jive. Robyn Hitchcock hasn’t chased the spotlight as much as some, but he has been a serious and hilarious practitioner of said jive since before punks walked the earth. His lyrics have always had the violent density of poets. . . .

(We’re also looking for other top-notch short reviews or very short essays. Contact us at newpoplitDOTgmailDOTcom if you have an idea for one.)

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p.s. Also check out the latest post at our News blog– “Where’s the Literary Underground?”

(Painting: “Woman Reading” by Henri Matisse.

The Art of Storytelling

Pop Lit Fiction

TALL TALES AND OTHER FICTION WRITING TECHNIQUES

WATCH some of recently-deceased comedian Norm Macdonald’s more extended jokes like “The Moth” and you realize he’s carrying on a North American tradition dating back to Mark Twain– or maybe Washington Irving: the tall tale. Stories related around a campfire– or, in cities, under a street lamp. The idea being to hook the reader at the outset, then keep the reader on the hook until the final conclusion, which sometimes is surprising but all the time satisfying.

TODAY we present a tale by one of the more talented and imaginative writers around, Zach Smith, making his second appearance with the New Pop Lit project. His new story, “Cloud Dreams,” could be called magic realism, but it’s also something of a yarn, a tall tale, one which presents an unusual premise and takes that premise to its logical(?) conclusion.

What is that conclusion? Read the story and find out!

In the morning the enormous man was wide awake, and showing no sign of hostility. Had he been used to hospitals before? Probably not, a man of that size would most assuredly be in the medical books, and figuring out who he was would have been easy, but there was no record. He was a full foot taller than the tallest living man, four inches taller than the tallest man in medical history, and their bodies had been severely damaged.

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(Painting: “Summer Clouds” by Emil Nolde.)

New New Poetry Poetry

Poetry

NEW POETRY!

We just wanted you to get the message that we have new feature poetry by Daniel Miller, “The Sea At Night,” up here at our main site, but also an audio version by Daniel himself at our Open Mic.

the queen of storms 

sends storms 

sends sleepless nights 

sends shipwrecks 

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(Painting: “Storm Over the Black Sea” by Ivan Aivazovsky.)

What Does New Writing Look Like?

Pop Lit Fiction

THIS IS a question we hope to ask more often in coming months and perhaps provide answers– with the knowledge the short story is marginalized in the culture or at least fallen from its once-lofty station one hundred years ago when everyone in America was reading them and new story writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald were celebrities.

WILL the art become like string quartets or live theater– property of a set group of Insider cognoscenti based in select artistic capitals, with tiny groups of imitators scattered across the country, sharing their sacred texts like monks keeping an archaic cultural form scarcely alive? In what ways can it change? Is its regeneration doable– can a few Dr. Frankenstein mad scientists in artistic laboratories generate electricity through the monster’s body, and thereby rejuvenate it?

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We don’t know. Odds against the idea are steep. We only know that in future days we’ll be looking for stories which look different. Which try new things, no matter how offbeat or quirky.

TODAY we present a short story which looks and sounds different from the norm, “The Age of Insomnia” by Christopher Landrum. Not a linear story so much as a painting you look at and try to take in as one impression, with allusions to law, to literature, and to maybe the short story itself.

Father was a lawyer. The idea that all the cases and statutes of the law can be read together as some grand story sounds like a childish cliché—but what I wonder these nights is, can a story somehow be law? 

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WE HAVE other thoughts about art and the short story in a post at our NPL News blog, here.

ALSO be sure to see what we’re doing new with our print issues, here.

Pace and the Pop Story

Pop Fiction

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. 

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(Featured art: “Force of a Curve” by Tullio Crali.)

More Summer Reading 2021

Pop Lit Fiction

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. . .

XXX

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?

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(Art: “A Girl Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)

New Pop Lit’s Summer Reading Festival!

Announcement, Pop Lit Fiction

The summer people choked the road, filled up the taverns, trashed the beachfront, and parked everywhere and anywhere, even in places they shouldn’t.

So begins the feature story kicking off our impromptu Summer Reading Festival 2021, “People Ruin Everything,” by Anne Leigh Parrish, one of the best short story writers going. I don’t know if a story could better capture how everyone feels right now after eighteen months of pandemic, of interruption in our lives we naively thought would be over after three weeks or at most three months, but goes on. The story captures the mood: frustration that may seem illogical, but it’s there, in all of us, as undercurrent to the resumption of our lives.

Anyway, it’s a short story which should be in The New Yorker, but we’re fortunate and grateful to have it at New Pop Lit, and trust you’ll agree with our opinion of it.

She thought about the note they left. She didn’t like being lied to. Some people lived on lies, made a career of them, in some cases. Just look at any politician. She hated people who thought they were smarter than everyone else, who made getting over a full-time job. They’d laughed as they walked up to the car, and they were probably still laughing wherever they were now and wherever they were going.

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What about the rest of our Festival? In coming weeks we’ll be featuring more great new fiction, as well as re-announcing selected readings– fiction and poetry– previously featured at this site. Is that all? NO!

OUR OPEN MIC RETURNS

We’re also restarting our Open Mic feature with a reading of a terrific poem by the UK’s Alisha J. Prince, “Heaven Bound.” Click the link and take a listen.

NEW YORK MEDIA NEWS

We ALSO have at our NPL News Blog a short article about curious doings at iconic Newsweek magazine. Is this the direction in which other New York publications will be headed? What do you think?

POP LIT PRINT READING

FINALLY, check out the print publications we now offer at our POP SHOP— where we’re free to be somewhat more experimental, in attitude, words, and design, than what we present here, as we attempt to cut new paths toward the literary future.

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Anyway, we hope everyone has a glorious summer– and does a lot of reading!

(Featured art: “Two Girls Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)

What Are Zeens?

News

INVENTING THE NEW

Zeens are a book-zine hybrid, with roots in the print-zine scene of the 1990s, taken to a whole other level of quality and design.

Zeens are a totally new product unlike anything before seen.

Zeens are a way to rejuvenate the literary game– a path toward connecting intelligent people from all spheres to the joys of literary reading.

Zeens are instantly attractive, accessible, and appealing, modestly packaged yet wonderfully colorful. They shout, “Take me, read me, collect me!”

They’re like finding a glowing treasure, the unexpected gift.

Purchase your zeen here, today.