WATCHING the News the past two or three years one has received the impression, message, point, sledgehammer emphasis of a world in total collapse, screens filled with scenes of war and riots, destruction of cities and lives– protests rebellions insurgencies marches hectic hysteria as media generates panic leading to more turmoil feeding more media coverage and– the real point– sustained ratings. Jobs for designated experts on all sides.
TODAY we present a story which conveys what’s been happening. The Chaos of NOW, well captured in “Report from the Capital” by Timothy Resau. Fiction which depicts today’s tumultuous vibe.
Resau’s story is like a modernist painting in which you can see what you want to see in it. No sides taken– only a portrait of contemporary reality.
In spite of the curfew, sniper fire, violence, and bloodshed, we went into the capital that night. No one was safe. The ambushing was constant; gunshots, it seemed, were being fired randomly. Everyone was a possible target. The limited radio and TV reports warned of certain danger. In short, chaos and anarchy prevailed. Law and order were not in place—not yet. Law and order had been removed or erased. Citizens were being asked to remain tuned to local media for updates.
FINDING A BETTER MODEL
WHICH elements will be required to create “hit” short stories that can grab the attention of large swaths of the public?
Some of them are present in our latest short story by Nick Gallup, “Just Another Silly Love Song.” Such as: two dynamic lead characters with strikingly different personalities; tangible details used to emphasize those personalities (a red Corvette; a black cocktail dress); a well-structured and unified plot with built-in conflict, nothing extraneous, which maintains focus throughout– and much else.
Add to these elements a sense of depth: the two lead characters displaying, well, character– the ability to move beyond themselves in helping others– and you have for the reader a perfect mix. Oh, did I also mention the element of love? That ultimate ingredient in crafting compelling art?
But the best way to know what we’re talking about is to read the story.
Roxy looked a mess. She took note of my looking and correctly interpreted my conclusions. “Sorry I don’t look party-perfect, Ty,” she said sarcastically, with heavy emphasis on Ty, as if it were an affectation. “An unexpected problem came up. I had to don a cap and gown and wash all my make-up off to avoid infection.” She held up slender hands. “Want to know where these have been for the past two hours?”
(Art: “Return of a Night Bombing Flight of Voisin Aircraft” by Francois Flemeng.)
NEW SHORT FICTION
WE ARE HERE at the end of another year bombarded with holiday cheer most of it forced many of us stressed to the max– so we thought we’d present new fiction which reflects a little of the reality of life today. The story is “Hangnail” by Alex Olson. Noteworthy about the story is how well Olson accomplishes what should be one of the objectives of new-style fiction: creating momentum and pace. Pace fueled by anger? So be it! Makes for a compelling, onrushing read.
You’re in a zone, a slim area between suicidal and manic, a hangnail sliver of delicious madness where you feel you can take on the world and kill yourself at the same time, all with a grin on your face. You thrive in this zone, this is your home–
(Art: “Anger” by Hans-Siebert von Heister; “The Wolves” by Franz Marc.)
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.)