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.)
NEW FEATURED FICTION
Where do you stand on the future of fiction? Is there any longer a place for it in the chaotic-and-crazed loud culture of now? For us, the answer is “Yes!”– if the best new writers are brought to the forefront.
“The Uncertainty” by Alexander Blum isn’t a “pop” short story, but it is a very good story– looking at happenings in today’s university, at what’s happened to the world of ideas. It’s also about personality and about life. We present the story as proof we’re looking for every kind of talented writer– as we strive to be part of a renewal of the literary art.
Blum is one of a cadre of new writers breaking onto the literary scene whose focus is intelligence, ideas, and integrity. The kind of artistic and intellectual integrity the culture needs. Of that, we’re certain.
She had one of those black Russian hats on, the fold-up ones, and she smiled and hugged Knice and shook my hand and settled into the seat at the little table in Knice’s state-run apartment, handed to him along with his job, with warm curry in the microwave.
While you’re here, be sure to look in at the blog of ours covering the ongoing All-Time American Writers Tournament, which has been listing “The Most Charismatic American Writers.” Here’s a recent post. Who would you choose?
(Art: “La Chasse” by Albert Gleizes; “Beautiful Betty” by Albert Lynch.)
The wait is over. Anticipation ends. The moment has arrived. The new story has pulled up outside. We present an attempt at–
THE 3–D SHORT STORY
Keep in mind that this modest tale, set in Detroit and environs, is an experiment. An early modernist-pop prototype. Various angles are tried. Switching of viewpoint. Not every one of the angles may work.
Also remember it’s fiction– a work of the imagination. A story. These aren’t real people.
The story is “Vodka Friday Night.”
A foray into the literary unknown. More attempts to enter uncharted literary territory will be made. Soon.
When Stacey walked through parties or clubs, whether downtown Detroit or in her home town, she carried herself with aloofness which some mistook for conceit and others saw as mystery. She floated like a princess, or an empress, at least a celebrity, and everybody believed it.
To read arguments for why the literary art needs to change, go to our NPL News blog.
ON OTHER FRONTS, the All-Time American Writers Tournament resumes shortly at one of our other blogs with a look at “American Literature’s Most Charismatic Writers.” Don’t miss it!
(Art: “The Arrival” by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson.)
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.
(Art: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers” by Marc Chagall; “Self-Portrait” by Paul Gaugin.)
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.
REAL FICTION– real art– asks more questions than it answers. It becomes an alternate universe we enter to confront experience, and our own ideas, beliefs, and doubts.
SO IS IT with our newest feature, “Real Propaganda” by Christopher S. Bell, which raises questions about the recycling of gestures and stances from the rock music era.
IS there yet authenticity to be found in this scene– genuine artistic emotion? Or are bands and fans alike merely going through the motions– walking like artistic survivors through a landscape of cultural aftermath?
Read the story to find out.
“We all know what that first album is, why they made it, and why it still sounds so fucking good even to this day. It’s not hard to figure out; you just plug in and let it wash over you– “
(Featured art: “Mandolin and Guitar” by Pablo Picasso.)
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.)
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 meaning mankind have existed in insane periods in the past many writers and artists throughout history have been judged or diagnosed insane including Van Gogh and others like Dostoevsky Beethoven and Kafka have been on the edge, there have been crazy times, but have they been quite as extreme and chaotic as flat out mad crazy as OUR time? Now, in 2018?
Blame it on electronic media? Facebook? Twitter? Video games? The collapse of culture and decay of civilization?
TO ILLUSTRATE today’s madness we present to you the reader a story by Andrew Walker, “Blue Men in Black Coats,” which floats in between reality and madness, so that we ask, “Is this real? Any of this real? Or is it too real?” The story is too spot on, too much a presentation of now and the insane world which surrounds us.
The blue men do not look at you. From the books you’ve read, the shows you used to watch, the notes scribbled down in the pocket notebook you don’t use enough, you figured they would be some sort of bizarre, alien force come to act as a metaphor, an image, a symbol. Something come alive from the stories you have yet to write.
But these blue men appear to only be existing as anyone else would: to enjoy their Saturday.
(Art: “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe” by Van Gogh; “Blue Room” by Picasso.)
WHAT?? Experimental DIY author Wred Fright is going to save literature?
Well, he and others like him will if they maintain their imaginative ways of looking at fiction and literature– at what qualifies as fiction and literature. New ways of presenting the art, being readable, hooking unaware members of the greater populace on reading. Sorry, folks, but in the long run– or really, the short run– well-crafted New Yorker stories full of long paragraphs of finely-tuned verbiage putting masses of Manhattan commuters on trains and subways, or businesspersons on crowded airplane flights, to sleep just aren’t going to cut it.
Fiction needs what to compete?
First, immediacy. Second, the unfamiliar. The humorous or surprising.
WE’RE NOT saying Wred Fright is Tolstoy, mind you. (Though one never knows how he’ll be treated in future centuries as mankind keeps changing. He may well be taught in 2118 at online universities, the brick and mortar kind having been long closed or turned into the very WalMarts that Mr. Fright loves to mock!)
Enough of this– read “Yelp in Reverse.” Thanks for being here!
It’s two in the morning, I just want to keep doing shots in the manager’s office and get through the night at what has to be the worst Walmart in America. I want to get out of this hellhole, but a gal dreaming of a lucrative career in retail management has to start somewhere.
KEEP UP on News of the Literary World at New Pop Lit News.
(Main art: “Still Life of Books” by Jan Davidszoon de Heem. Tolstoy painting by Repin.)