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. 

1-man-in-the-iron-mask

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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.)

Certainty or Uncertainty?

Pop Lit Fiction

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.

Albert Lynch Beautiful Betty

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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?
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(Art: “La Chasse” by Albert Gleizes; “Beautiful Betty” by Albert Lynch.)

The 3-D Story Arrives

Pop Lit Fiction

The wait is over. Anticipation ends. The moment has arrived. The new story has pulled up outside. We present an attempt at–

THE 3D 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.

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To read arguments for why the literary art needs to change, go to our NPL News blog.

333DDD 2-page-001 - Edited

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!

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(Art: “The Arrival” by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson.)

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. 

 

Fiction: Cycles of Art

Pop Lit Fiction

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– “

bleach_a_side_label

(Featured art: “Mandolin and Guitar” by Pablo Picasso.)

 

Fiction, Film, Editors, and Gurus

Pop Lit Fiction

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?

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(Art: “Burning the Darkness” by Nicholas Roerich.)

Fiction: Life in High School Now

Pop Lit Fiction

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.

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(Painting: “The Dance of Life” by Edvard Munch.)