WE ARE putting this project this summer as much as possible into the zeitgeist the vibe the flow of angst and anger rushing on all sides around us. We’re caught in a sense of chaos. Of reality, the world, and all stability preconceived notions of comfort and sense dropping beneath us– as if the floors and earth under our feet have given way. In all likelihood the challenges we all face are temporary. Which doesn’t make them easier.
This summer we plan to have the writing– the art– we present reach a crescendo. Afterward which (we hope) the world will resume a course of peace and harmony. Setting the stage for a fun and reinvigorating pop culture revival.
FIRST UP in our literary symphony is a short story by M.C. Schmidt— “We Love You, Ringo”— ostensibly about a Beatles tribute band, but at the same time about a relationship, and maybe also, about the world we live in today. Humor combined with seriousness. We hope you enjoy it.
ALSO when you get a chance drop into our Special Projects room on this site and check out the latest piece of quirky writing there: “Aim For the Snyder Brothers” by Bud Sturguess. With more fun stuff already posted at the blog, and more (including a collaborative project?) to follow.
Don’t miss any of it!
Why read our web site?
Why “pop lit”– an intended fusion of the literary and the popular?
If you’re interested in writing and literature and believe literature can change the world (which at the moment needs an upsurge in cultural enthusiasm), then we’re a literary site to keep an eye on. None are more ambitious. (A sign of absurd confidence?)
What makes us stand out is A.) We believe the literary art, as well as the publishing industry itself, will change. As arts over time inevitably change. B.) We have plans to change it. Plans-– the plural, because we know many if not most of our ideas won’t work. Which is why we have a lot of them. We’re the innovation machine of today’s literary world.
This means: creating prototypes.
We have a primitive “3-D” multidimensional short story as our current feature, as one example of a writing prototype. We also have “zeens”– print journal prototypes– available for sale at our POP SHOP, in addition to the latest issue of a newsletter discussing more of what our plans are about.
Jump on the New Pop Lit bandwagon before it takes off!
MOST of the chaos is in our heads as the networks and social media pump images of violence, tragedy, and trauma into our heads 24/7. BUT there’s enough reality to it to concern everybody with a conscience and with half a brain in their head.
The populace is in panic.
OUR TASK as a literary site is to capture the current cultural vibe– the real one, not a watered-down and insular Manhattan-Brooklyn version.
At the moment, the strongest vibes aren’t coming from New York. They’re coming from hinterlands like Uvalde or Buffalo, where the already-unhinged have completely lost it, and the world explodes into chaos like a fictional Killtown.
Which we present in a short story, “Chaos In Killtown.” Its “3-D” multi-dimensional framework is an ideal vehicle for the expression of chaos. The narrative comes at the reader from every direction. The goal with this particular story is to be completely pop, but also to capture the hysteria of now. Does it?
The mayor sat in his riverfront mansion at an enormous table sampling yet another enormous meal. Calls came into his private phone from aides saying the city was in chaos and he had to do something.
“The city is always in chaos!” the mayor shouted back, and disconnected.
WHERE ARE THE WRITER CELEBRITIES?
THERE HAVE BEEN a few of them over the years, even recently, as we find with our atmospheric new feature set in Manhattan, “That Time I Stalked Nick Tosches” by Brooklyn-based author Scott Laudati.
We wish we could’ve met Nick Tosches ourselves!
The Next Best Thing: To discover or create a few new literary celebrities. Which may be part of what this hyper-ambitious project is about. Until then, enjoy the essay.
“He’s a writer,” I said. “These guys don’t get the face time. They don’t hate their fans like actors do.”
It was a gamble, though. Would he dig a young fan interrupting his drink? There was a war in every line on his face. I hadn’t seen anyone else recognize him, but maybe that’s why he drank there. There was no way to know if he’d shake my hand or put his cigar out on my eye.
(Painting: “Portrait of Victor Chocquet” by Paul Cezanne.)
OUR FIRST FICTION FEATURE OF THE YEAR–
–and it’s a good one, capturing the insanity of the hypertechnological world we live in now, but also structurally a terrific tale, full of unpredictability and imagination, as well as subtle humor. The story of which we speak is “The Swipe” by Michael Maiello, who is one of the finest talents on today’s writing scene. It has to do with a dating app, an image, and the world, and– we can’t say more. Read it!
WHILE we plan to publish at this site a number of more traditional offerings of fiction and poetry, we also hope to showcase several more experimental works– how we define experimental. Meaning, in some way pop, but going beyond the merely entertaining and readable. It’s what we’re looking for anyway!
In the meantime, at our News blog we’ve posted two 2022 Announcements– here and here— about where we are as an ambitious literary project and what’s going on. Stay informed– we’re moving into new territory.
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.”
EXPERIMENTS IN FICTION
Call it montage, or the 3-D or multidimensional story, or literary polyphony, the point remains the same: To get away from the linear, one point-of-view, one-tense format in short story writing, which allows for little variety. The solution? To innovate.
Our new feature, “Waiting for the Superhero”— about a man trying to survive in a tough urban landscape– is an attempt to do so. The story plays with viewpoint– to increase angles– and with time. The trick is to do this without hindering the flow of the narrative. Indeed, if well utilized, the technique will increase drama and pace.
Putting fragments of writing together– like editing film– isn’t simple, but opens up endless creative possibilities. Expect to see us go way beyond what we’re showing to date. Just saying.
He moved into the basement of a nearby vacant building. The several-storied structure was in receivership; kept by the bank which owned it in a modicum of shape. There, Ernesto created a cave. An escape. A small window, easily pried, provided access.
The first night he noticed a visitor in the form of a pair of green eyes. A cat.
In daylight he realized the cat was more or less black. Ernesto adopted its guise. So garbed, in the evening he became invisible, blending into the night.
(Art: “Night Over the City” by Otto Dix.)
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?
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?
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.