AT A TIME of year when many of us are facing winter’s fury or at least cold gray skies trudging through bleak landscapes and simultaneously being bombarded with the cultural family social pressures bad music of the Christmas holidays, what could be more escapist than love in Naples?
Our new feature story aims toward exactly that, “The Date” by Robert Steward.
We hope you enjoy it!
I looked at her, at the way her mouth went, and the curve of her cheekbones, at her bluey-green eyes, the flecks of amber round her pupils, and at the way her hair fell over her eyes.
She caught me looking at her, and I felt something in the air between us, something pure, intense; it made me shiver inside.
(Art: “Eruption of Vesuvius” by Alessandro Sanquirico.)
Colder weather is upon us! Sooner than anyone expected. Which means it’s a good time for reading. At New Pop Lit we have several options for the discriminating reader.
FIRST is our new feature story, “Pretty Women Never Sit Next to Me on Airplanes” by Jason Feingold, a much-published short story writer making his first appearance with us. As its title indicates, it’s a quick tale about traveling. As so many of you will be traveling somewhere in the coming weeks, with the holidays nearly upon us, we believe you’ll find the story timely.
Age fourteen was my last good year. I’d peaked, and I never realized it until about fifteen minutes ago, because fifteen minutes ago is when I realized I’ll never have a renaissance.
WE ALSO offer a review of a controversial new book by Dana Schwartz, The White Man’s Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon. Does the book live up to the controversy?
FINALLY, we have at our NPL News blog (which presents the latest literary news, uncensored) an editorial about this past week’s layoffs at Bustle magazine. The editorial is bold. Don’t be thrown by it. As an upstart literary project with large ambitions, confidence in our project is the first requirement.
(Art by Heinrich Campendonk.)
WHAT’S Pop-Lit Fiction?
What we call Pop-Lit Fiction is fiction written with perfect clarity that at the same time “pops” with color and tangible life– making for an enjoyable reading experience. A story whose well-structured form provides a feeling of harmony. An artistic sense of unity and completeness.
No easy feat– but accomplished in our new feature story, “Spoiler Alert” by young Philippine writer Angelo Lorenzo. Structure using simple plot which results in surprising emotion. Tangible details. Manifest humanity.
Read it and see if you agree.
But here she is beside you, and you can’t help but be grateful. Now, the screen shows
the action sequence. You see the superheroes in iron suits, capes and tight fitting spandex
dueling against an armored purple alien and his massive army on a red planet. You wonder if each thundering blast comes from the screen, or from the fast-paced beating in your chest amplified by the theater’s Dolby Digital surround sound system.
(Art: “Man and Woman” by Fernand Leger.)
IN THE MIDDLE of summer everyone seems to be traveling or escaping, from the heat of jobs or the stagnation of their lives. In the middle of summer, we like to sometimes present short summer fiction perfect for reading about exotic locales where you might like to travel to, or at least imagine being there.
Today we have a well-written short story by talented writer Zachary H. Loewenstein, “Jerusalem,” which in concise words captures the bustle and heat of the well-traveled city– as if he were creating a painting instead of a story. We think you’ll enjoy it.
“It was just right about there.” The entirely bald and unlicensed tour guide pointed with his swollen index finger. His brain was cooking in the heat and he shouted. He clapped his hands and insisted, “Ok! Everybody! It’s time to move to the market! Everybody!”
(Art: “House in the Garden 1908” by Pablo Picasso.)
WE LOOK for new writers with style and talent. Intelligence and verve. Personality and insight.
ONE WRITER with those qualities in multiples is Meeah Williams, who graces us with a short tale, “The Nose That Ate Cleveland.” This short piece is so good we took time out from our own literary experiments to feature it.
I’ve been a lot of things to a lot of guys, but never a muse. It sounds so romantic but let me tell you, it’s not. The way they portray it in poems and stories, you do a lot of traipsing around from room to room, barefoot, in long flowing white gowns, your hair wreathed in flowers. In real life, it’s nothing of the sort.
(Painting: “The Poor Fool” by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.)
THE SUBJECT of editorial independence has come up within the literary world much of late– especially with the recent ouster of Ian Buruma at New York Review of Books.
TO STAY topical we present a new short story from that always entertaining observer of American business, manners, and culture, Alan Swyer. His new tale, “The Sage,” looks at creative smarts and editorial independence within the film industry– a business Alan Swyer knows much about.
CAN Swyer’s lead character, a movie maker named Tarlowe, rescue a troubled film project involving a difficult celebrity wise man– and maintain his integrity while doing so? An inside look at a tumultuous world.
The non-stop travel, coupled with interviews that ranged from eye-opening to scintillating, proved to be a dizzying experience. But even as he reported in periodically, informing his benefactor about what had been said, and by whom, a question kept gnawing at Tarlowe. How would the man who billed himself as The Sage, but who came off in person like a somewhat epicene song-and-dance man, fit in among such luminaries?
(Art: “Burning the Darkness” by Nicholas Roerich.)
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 NEW GENERATION
WHAT are the kids doing, thinking experiencing? HOW are their lives different from ours? What’s changed? What burdens, obstacles, expectations and insanities are they going through– beyond those which we who’ve been around longer have already faced?
HAS there ever been a more connected yet more alienated generation?
WILL they soon simply proclaim in one voice “Enough!” and be done with all of it, and with us?
QUESTIONS which are raised by our new feature story by recent high school student A.K. Riddle, “Now All the Kids Are Making Noise Just Because It’s Something to Do.”
Experience? A.K. gives us a ton of it, along with the emotion and confusion of being young– of being human. Along with exceptional writing. Plus, a structure which doesn’t fit a predictable mold– which one would expect and want from an artistically fresh and talented young writer.
There’s a lot going on in this story. We hope you like it.
I wished I could play with them and laugh along to their jokes and sing along to their rap. But, as I looked to the clear sky and opened the door a little to feel the cold air, I remembered that I was just a poet. I was just there to tell their stories, not be like them. I don’t know if I liked it that way, but that’s just the way things were.
(Painting: “The Dance of Life” by Edvard Munch.)
WE’VE begun to rethink several aspects of this project. One of the items on our planning table is fiction– the style offered. We’re toying with prototypes– will eventually implement tighter requirements. That it be dynamic, punchy, readable, fast, and if possible, fun. The future story will need to slap the reader in the face and grab that person by the collar, in order to survive as an art form.
EVIDENCE shows that the finely-detailed, well-crafted literary story is as slow and obsolete as a Studebaker automobile.
It reaches no one beyond a finely educated clique. A literary priesthood, stodgy and complacent, well-suited for preserving the literary art but not for taking it to new areas.
OUR NEWEST offering, “Hats Off to Bob” by Bob Lorentson– a story about hats!– gives a basic template to build on. Likeable and readable, with a modest-but-amusing punchline. Lorentson isn’t Ernest Hemingway. (Who is?) But we think Hemingway would appreciate what Bob Lorentson does with this unpretentious tale. If not a Corvette, then a Mini Cooper.
Confidence. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew that he lacked the confidence that all those other people had. Or appeared to have. All thanks to his wimpy name and bland, impotent face. Things he had absolutely no control over. It wasn’t fair. How could he go about getting more confident?
OUR LATEST New Pop Lit News report is about dinosaur booksellers, specifically Barnes and Noble. Read it here.
WHAT’S the future of books and literature? We’re not sure, but we know they belong to everyone.
(Art: “Her Paintings, Her Objects” by Sonia Delaunay.)
JUST when you’ve had enough of summer and its heat, we come along with great summer reading set in Buffalo, New York, during the winter holidays. Snow! Cold! Blizzards!
The story is “Homecoming” by Michael Howard. It’s about a young woman returning home from sunny California during the Christmas season, encountering all the familiar warm faces and smells, but also something darker, lying wait inside the comfortable house. . . .
Lucy had the sensation that the room was growing smaller. She could feel her pulse thumping in her temples as she forced another smile and told him that it was nice of him to say so, but that they really should go back downstairs now. Her words didn’t seem to penetrate–
(Paintings: “Murnau Burggrabenstrasse” by Wassily Kandinsky; “At Dusk” by Childe Hassam.)