What Does New Writing Look Like?

Pop Lit Fiction

THIS IS a question we hope to ask more often in coming months and perhaps provide answers– with the knowledge the short story is marginalized in the culture or at least fallen from its once-lofty station one hundred years ago when everyone in America was reading them and new story writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald were celebrities.

WILL the art become like string quartets or live theater– property of a set group of Insider cognoscenti based in select artistic capitals, with tiny groups of imitators scattered across the country, sharing their sacred texts like monks keeping an archaic cultural form scarcely alive? In what ways can it change? Is its regeneration doable– can a few Dr. Frankenstein mad scientists in artistic laboratories generate electricity through the monster’s body, and thereby rejuvenate it?

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We don’t know. Odds against the idea are steep. We only know that in future days we’ll be looking for stories which look different. Which try new things, no matter how offbeat or quirky.

TODAY we present a short story which looks and sounds different from the norm, “The Age of Insomnia” by Christopher Landrum. Not a linear story so much as a painting you look at and try to take in as one impression, with allusions to law, to literature, and to maybe the short story itself.

Father was a lawyer. The idea that all the cases and statutes of the law can be read together as some grand story sounds like a childish cliché—but what I wonder these nights is, can a story somehow be law? 

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WE HAVE other thoughts about art and the short story in a post at our NPL News blog, here.

ALSO be sure to see what we’re doing new with our print issues, here.

New Pop Lit’s Summer Reading Festival!

Announcement, Pop Lit Fiction

The summer people choked the road, filled up the taverns, trashed the beachfront, and parked everywhere and anywhere, even in places they shouldn’t.

So begins the feature story kicking off our impromptu Summer Reading Festival 2021, “People Ruin Everything,” by Anne Leigh Parrish, one of the best short story writers going. I don’t know if a story could better capture how everyone feels right now after eighteen months of pandemic, of interruption in our lives we naively thought would be over after three weeks or at most three months, but goes on. The story captures the mood: frustration that may seem illogical, but it’s there, in all of us, as undercurrent to the resumption of our lives.

Anyway, it’s a short story which should be in The New Yorker, but we’re fortunate and grateful to have it at New Pop Lit, and trust you’ll agree with our opinion of it.

She thought about the note they left. She didn’t like being lied to. Some people lived on lies, made a career of them, in some cases. Just look at any politician. She hated people who thought they were smarter than everyone else, who made getting over a full-time job. They’d laughed as they walked up to the car, and they were probably still laughing wherever they were now and wherever they were going.

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What about the rest of our Festival? In coming weeks we’ll be featuring more great new fiction, as well as re-announcing selected readings– fiction and poetry– previously featured at this site. Is that all? NO!

OUR OPEN MIC RETURNS

We’re also restarting our Open Mic feature with a reading of a terrific poem by the UK’s Alisha J. Prince, “Heaven Bound.” Click the link and take a listen.

NEW YORK MEDIA NEWS

We ALSO have at our NPL News Blog a short article about curious doings at iconic Newsweek magazine. Is this the direction in which other New York publications will be headed? What do you think?

POP LIT PRINT READING

FINALLY, check out the print publications we now offer at our POP SHOP— where we’re free to be somewhat more experimental, in attitude, words, and design, than what we present here, as we attempt to cut new paths toward the literary future.

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Anyway, we hope everyone has a glorious summer– and does a lot of reading!

(Featured art: “Two Girls Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)

Adventure and Style in Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

STANDARD in classic fiction of the past, especially from short story writers, was a sense of style or adventure– or both. Jack London and O. Henry emphasized adventure— albeit very different types of adventure: wilderness and oceans on the one hand, stray unpredictable adventures which could assault a person in cities like New York on the other. Writers Edith Wharton, Henry James, and F. Scott Fitzgerald placed more emphasis on the kinds of styles exhibited by their characters, and from the sophisticated settings in which they moved. This was back when the short story was the popular American art form.

Today we present a story which captures that much-needed sense of mystery, adventure, and style, “The Names Divine” by C. A. Shoultz. Our first feature of 2021, with more to follow.

In due course they arrived atop the stairs. Simon walked beyond the masked man and beheld a table covered in black velvet. A sign above it, written in gold script, said: “Choose your mask. Choose your name.” Sure enough, upon the table were a small number of masks just like his escort was wearing. They were widely and irregularly spaced apart, a sign that many others had come here before him and done what he was about to do.

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(Art: Above: “At the Masked Ball” by Jean-Louis Forain. Below: A section of a poster for a movie by Gaumont Films.)

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Announcement

EASY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

Want an easy way to Christmas shop? Simply purchase our flagship publication, ZEENITH, at our Pop Shop, and in the Ship To part of the order enter the name and address of the person you wish to receive the gift.

Why ZEENITH?

Because everything about the issue is first rate– a literary publication unlike any that’s ever been created. Not a book. Instead: a work of art, featuring top-notch writing along with striking illustrations and graphics. Each page is an adventure unto itself.

Not only that, but we’re sending each copy this time of year in special silver envelopes, so the recipient knows they’re receiving something truly unique. We’ll include inside the package a holiday “From: To:” note, to be sure they know the gift was sent care of YOU. (We’ll also throw in a “pop” postcard or two.)

an order ready to go out

ZEENITH is the perfect gift for intelligent friends, for high school or college-age sons or daughter, nieces or nephews, or for artistically-curious aunts, uncles, even parents or grandparents. (Far better than a scarf or tie!)

Let’s do it! Order your copy now at our POP SHOP.

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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.)

Pushcart Art

Announcement

OUR 2019 PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATIONS

AS WE ARE at present strictly a bootstrap, “pushcart” enterprise (with plans to dramatically change that standing), we appreciate the intent behind the annual Pushcart Press Pushcart Prize collections. Being able to nominate a few of the quality writers who publish work with us is one of the great blessings we receive from running this literary project.

WE BELIEVE our site is particularly in synch with the Pushcart spirit– not solely because of our small size, but also because we’re endeavoring to create a new model for both short fiction and poetry. A model not only different from standard “Big Five” publishing, but from the kind of work featured in more established literary magazines and included in such anthologies.

ANYWAY, here are our 2019 nominations. We invite you to click on the links to the work, and read or reread the nominated pieces.

Thanks!
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(Art: Graffiti in Ann Arbor, Michigan.)

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 )

The Masked Writer

Pop Fiction

KNOWING the literary game today is understanding that many of the best new writers circulating through the internet use pen names. A reaction to Cancel Culture? Possibly.

Judging by their work, we believe several of these little-known scribblers have the potential to become outstanding. To be part of the kind of real literary revival we seek. Time will tell if their potential becomes reality.

Our task as a literary project is to promote writing talent wherever we find it. For our new feature we present a short story, “The Prop Comic” by Bud E. Ice, which provides attributes of accomplished fiction: atmosphere, character, drama– and palpable tension. A story about a trip to a comedy club which becomes more a view of the defeated, the desperate, and, maybe, the insane. A quick glimpse at the underside of contemporary society. Read the tale and see. You won’t be disappointed.

Deep down this guy knew that the show was sorry and meaningless and full of a variety of wannabes, including himself. How could he be excited? The crowd wasn’t even excited. The fact that they were really trying to pull off a Vegas-like atmosphere, and were getting nowhere close, gave me second hand embarrassment. 

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ON OTHER FRONTS, check out our second “Pop Quiz” Q & A, this one with Angelo Lorenzo.

ALSO, see the latest performance at our Open Mic“I Comfort Crow Jane” by renowned poet Joel Allegretti, who’s written a Halloween story we’ll be featuring at New Pop Lit in a few weeks.

Three terrific story writers. A preview of many things which will be happening at this site.

Short Summer Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

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!”

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(Art: “House in the Garden 1908” by Pablo Picasso.)