Beyond the Boundaries

Pop Lit Fiction

THE APPEAL of science fiction is the idea of testing the outer limits of science, technology– and of the imagination. To stimulate questions of “What if?” and “What then?” At its best, sci-fi combines creativity of ideas with creativity of writing. Such is the case with our new fiction feature, “DEDCOM-204” by Courtenay Schembri Gray, one of the most talented young writers on today’s literary scene. We hope you enjoy her offering.

What is life but a series of little deaths? Those impactful, perhaps traumatic moments that take a part of us, all in preparation for our eventual big death—the one we don’t return from. I like to visit mine, from time to time; at the facility on the edge of town. Dad loves to remember his adulthood; the time before—when a firefly was a glowing bug, rather than a moment in your life preserved in a jar.

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By the way, Ms. Gray also has a poem in our newest print publication, the ultra-collectible Fun Pop Poetry. Have you purchased your copy?

2021 Recap Part Two

Announcement

2021 FICTION-POETRY RECAP PART TWO

THE YEAR’S OVERVIEW CONTINUES

America versus the Nazi war machine at the Battle of the Bulge– “The Deserters.”

A stripper working at a dive bar– “West Columbus.”

A young couple surviving the pandemic– “People Ruin Everything.”

The trials of online dating– “Symmetry.”

A whirlpool of surprise and terror– “The Boiling Point of Placid Water.”

Reflections of an aging mind– “The Age of Insomnia.”

The queen of storms– “The Sea At Night.”

An unusual man drops from the sky– “Cloud Dreams.”

A would-be superhero appears– “Waiting for the Superhero.”

2021 Fiction-Poetry Recap

Announcement

2021 RECAP PART ONE

A mysterious party–
“The Names Divine.”

ARE fast food poems pop? Or art?
“The Jimmy Johns Poem Collection.”

Love and romance–
“Love Poetry/Prose from Tom Preisler.”

A vivid slice of old-fashioned Americana–
“Carnival Fun.”

A story which asks, “What would you do?”
“Sorry For Your Loss.”

What makes a person a celebrity? What turns them into a star?
“Fanboy.”

Poetry with energy and rhythm–
“Two Poems by Mather Schneider.”

A vibrant time when everything changed artistically–
“Soup Can.”

Pop culture experiences in the real world–
“Two Short Pop Pieces by Andrew Sacks.”

MORE TO COME!

Rage and Pace

Pop Lit Fiction

NEW SHORT FICTION

RAGE-page-001 - Edited (1)

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–

Franz_Marc_the wolves 1913

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(Art: “Anger” by Hans-Siebert von Heister; “The Wolves” by Franz Marc.)

Novel Excerpt from Brian Eckert

Pop Lit Fiction

BEST NEW WRITERS DEPARTMENT

ONE of the premises of the New Pop Lit project is that a pool of overlooked talent exists in this world, this society. Overlooked for a variety of reasons– lack of connections, or correctness, or proper credentials. Or simply because of an unwillingness to conform to dictates of the institutional mob, whether those dictates be ideological or aesthetic.

OUR mission is to showcase such writers. One of the best of them without question is Brian Eckert. To come to that conclusion all one need do is read his writing– consistently of high quality. As with this excerpt from his short novel, Into the Vortex. A story about a journalist investigating the West who discovers a canyon seemingly beyond time and space.

In spite of my skepticism I began seeing signs of architecture on the rock. I made out an ornate window framed in metallic blue with a holographic patina. I also saw a hieroglyphic-like depiction of what appeared to be a flying saucer. But as I looked closer I saw only rock.

eye of horus

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(Main painting: watercolor copy by Nina Degaris Davies of an Egyptian wall painting )

Futurist Stylistics

Pop Lit Fiction

CUTTING EDGE OF THE CUTTING EDGE

We live in dystopian times. Our mad society is on the verge of major technological upheavals. A host of new writers are caught up in the current sense of frantic energy– writing or philosophizing clamorously in attempts to capture that energy before it consumes everything.

As often as not this results in politics as performance. Ideas as style.

Case in point: the multifaceted career of Transhumanist Party candidate Rachel Haywire. From her campaign website:

This includes her radical political journey from the far left to the dissident right to beyond the center, her artistic and bohemian upbringing, her visionary transhumanist ideas, and her plans to defeat Trump using a pirate spaceship. 

Rachel Haywire is a cultural futurist, industrial musician, model, designer– and writer, with a distinctive neopop style that combines artistic clarity with dystopian edge, as featured in her book/manifesto called The New Art Right.

We’re fortunate to present an excerpt from that book, “The Kingdom.” Fitting for New Pop Lit to follow a nonfiction essay by a Hollywood producer with fiction by a Presidential candidate. Part of our determination to take an active part in popular culture. Wherever that takes us.

Futuristic fiction?

The future is NOW.

When she blew it all up I stood there in awe, wondering if we could ever get back to The Kingdom. Pixels burning like the flesh of the old human race, a new era was about to begin. Each wire collapsing, the holocaust of machines did not ask us to just “click here” any longer.

flora gerardo dottori
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(Art: “The City Rises” by Umberto Boccioni; “Flora” by Gerardo Dottori.)

Short Sharp Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

AS WE WAIT to introduce to the world in one month the innovation we call the 3D Short Story, we have a couple fictional works to present first. (As well as several new poems.) The two fictional works are different from the norm– in keeping with our 2019 mission to present new experiences to New Pop Lit readers.

The first of the two stories, by talented story writer Sophie Kearing, is “This Is.” We hope you enjoy it.

Every time she thinks about me, the skeletal digits of an invisible hand squeeze all the comfort from me like juice from a lemon. The hand keeps me firmly planted in the darkness, unable to reach any of the good feelings.

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ALSO, we have a new post at our NPL News blog about the aforementioned 3D Story– and whether critics of all varieties will be ready for it. Is literary change upon us? Maybe!

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(Public domain art c/o stockfreeimages.com.)

Art and the Artist

Essay, Feature, profile
NEW POP LIT GOES LOCAL

Our previous feature was by an esteemed international author. For this one we looked closer to home– presenting a unique work here by young Detroit-area writer Ambrose Black which is part profile of accomplished artist Leon Dickey and his work, and part imagination, as Ambrose enters the head of his subject to relate his background and complete his story.

The result becomes itself something like a modernist painting, with two different but complementary vantage points. Ambrose Black writes in an original style, reminiscent perhaps of Sherwood Anderson, but not really. He hasn’t been machine-stamped as from a press, and so views the world– and in this case, the artist– through fresh eyes.

The essay is in line with our stated objective for 2019: To search for the literary NEW.

He has to expose his truth to the world, for he is a creator. His truth is that one is in control of the self– the only judgment and choices one is responsible for is the self. His art is ironic to his truth, but purposefully and honestly. The trash he uses signifies his and our failures. But like a phoenix from the ashes, he uses the deconstruction to create something of beauty.

gaugin self

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(Art: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers” by Marc Chagall; “Self-Portrait” by Paul Gaugin.)

Fiction Reinvention

Pop Lit Fiction
REVAMPING THE SHORT STORY ART

WHY do we illustrate this post with the famous painting of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso?

BECAUSE with her innovative writing style, Gertrude Stein kicked off one of those period attempts to reinvent writing. This effort had its greatest effect via Stein protege Ernest Hemingway, whose collection of short fiction, In Our Time, at the time revolutionized the short story art.

There is always a push-pull where the short story is concerned. Creators and innovators like Hemingway (or Gordon Lish and his minimalist friends Raymond Carver and Susan Minot in the 1980’s and 90’s) attempt to breathe new life into the form– only to see their efforts counteracted by the stodgy mindset represented by prestigious Iowa-style writing programs and The New Yorker magazine– which some would say are the same thing.

WE at New Pop Lit would like to kick off a round of short fiction innovation. Toward that end we are doing two things:

1.)  Beginning what we call The Short Story Process— a creative procedure through which we hope to arrive at the promised land of a reinvented art.

2.) Spotlighting new writers whose work in subject or style colors outside the lines of the artistically acceptable, the bourgeois, the already done. Toward that end we present a new story, “Ain’t Worth a Dollar,” by Atticus Davis, who writes under the name Savage Ckhild, a handle that may say it all.

She’s sitting in the car with her hair tied up, I forget how beautiful she is, I always think I’m going to be immune to her, to them—so she smiles this unblemished smile, that lasts one second before it collapses into this miserable, needy, fearful smile. I feel guilty for being here. 

 

What Happened to Proletarian Literature?

Populist Fiction

THERE WAS A TIME. . . .

There was a time when the American literary scene was defined by proletarian writing. Notably in the 1930’s, with the novels of John Steinbeck (Cannery Row, In Dubious Battle, The Grapes of Wrath) but from others, all-but-forgotten names like Horace McCoy, James T. Farrell, and Jack Conroy. The genre became so important that no less an author than Ernest Hemingway tried his hand at it, with the regrettable artistic and commercial failure To Have and Have Not.

After World War II the literary establishment, whether from reasons of commerce or ideology, de-emphasized populist writing. Scattered authors continued to add their insights and experiences. The excellent novella On the Line by Harvey Swados (1957) was one of them. By and large, though, with the rise of middle-class MFA programs and word-focused “literary” writing, the proletarian style of American literature fell by the wayside.

WHAT is the proletarian style? It’s marked by unpretentious prose– no sparkling Updike stylistic fireworks, sorry. No David Foster Wallace convoluted ruminations. Instead, simple accumulation of hard experience, focused on the working class, usually about economic hardship or collapse. Leaving the reader with a very different sort of impact. As if the reader had been– appropriately– punched between the eyes.

WE have an excellent contemporary example of the form, from a writer of now, Tim O’Connor, who gives us “The Baler.” In his story O’Connor expresses past hopes along with a disillusion which runs through many new writers. Amid a swiftly-changing world, an absence of faith in the future– in their future. As the editors of this site are from the long-beaten-down city of Detroit, we know that feeling well. As if the floor has dropped out from beneath you.

“The Baler” is a visit into a land alien to many Americans, the industrial world–

It’s the kind of scene you’d expect a factory worker to thrive in. The one where all the men at the bar are middle-aged and overweight. A majority of them have thick mustaches and wear thirty-year-old hats with retro beer logos on them. If you squint your eyes hard enough you can imagine them crushing cans of Schlitz, commiserating over another failed pennant race by the Tribe under the glow of a neon sign.

Thmas Hart Benton-Boomtown-mural

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(Art: “Detroit Industry” by Diego Rivera; “Boomtown” by Thomas Hart Benton.)