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.)
THE WAR between men and women in this culture is ongoing. Redress of long-held grievances. We’ve published an array of featured fiction and poetry addressing the issue.
Today we feature fiction from one of the best short story writers in America, Anne Leigh Parrish. The story, “He Said, She Said,” contains Anne Leigh’s trademark insights into the subtleties and outrages which entangle that tentative truce between the sexes we call marriage.
Does this sound like anyone you know?
He was a romantic character. Women outnumbered men at his book-signings, and when he went on tour, trips she couldn’t take with him, because of the children. His mystery novels were considered clever, good psychological studies of the criminal mind, the rationalization people engage in when they’ve done wrong.
(Painting: “Landscape with Sun Disk” by Robert Delaunay.)
FATHERS AND SONS PART ONE
Father’s Day is less than two weeks away, so at New Pop Lit we’re marking the holiday with a small two-week celebration of relationships between fathers and sons, one of the primal relationships in our lives. In our new featured story, “Up On the Mountain,” Jack Somers captures the nuances in that relationship. Dad can be at times an embarrassment, a disappointment, a burden, or a revelation. An unavoidable shadow, good or bad, for us all.
(WRITERS: Note Somers’s ability to create atmosphere without excessive detail. You feel what it’s like to be a tourist in Athens. Photos to illustrate the story were unnecessary– but we added a few anyway.)
I had to come with him, if only to make sure he didn’t kill himself. I found myself thrust again into a role that had become all too familiar to me over the past few years: the parent of the parent. It seemed the older my father got, the more reckless and impulsive and childlike he became.
ON OTHER FRONTS we’ll shortly have new audio at our ongoing Open Mic, as well as a review of the latest novel from one of our favorite writers. Stay tuned– much more will be happening.
(Painting: “Greek Theatre at Taormina” by Tivader Csontvary-Kosztka.)