WITH SUMMER upon us we thought it was time for a bout of light reading– in this case via Two Short Pop Pieces by Andrew Sacks.
Both pieces connect to pop culture experiences in the real world. The first essay is about the similarities between poker and chess– which were once the chief games for people in America to play (not video games!), and provided great brain training for future endeavors. Both games involve a high degree of skill and psychology, as Andrew discusses in his essay.
His second piece is about cult movies. Do teenagers still flock to midnight movies on weekends? Nothing better embodies the cinema experience– screaming or laughing with a crowd of fellow moviegoers. Andrew gives us a few of his favorites. One can watch them at home of course– as virtually everyone has done during the pandemic– but is it really the same?
Anyway, pop culture reading not to miss!
At first glance, it seems that chess is a contest of pure skill and iron logic, and that any gambling card game must, inherently, incorporate so much luck that skill must play a small part and compare unfavorably with the Royal Game. But, in the final analysis, this turns out to be an oversimplified and naïve point of view.
(Art: “Chess Players” by Henri Hayden; “Checkmate” by Moritz Retzsch.)
WHAT’S Pop-Lit Fiction?
What we call Pop-Lit Fiction is fiction written with perfect clarity that at the same time “pops” with color and tangible life– making for an enjoyable reading experience. A story whose well-structured form provides a feeling of harmony. An artistic sense of unity and completeness.
No easy feat– but accomplished in our new feature story, “Spoiler Alert” by young Philippine writer Angelo Lorenzo. Structure using simple plot which results in surprising emotion. Tangible details. Manifest humanity.
Read it and see if you agree.
But here she is beside you, and you can’t help but be grateful. Now, the screen shows
the action sequence. You see the superheroes in iron suits, capes and tight fitting spandex
dueling against an armored purple alien and his massive army on a red planet. You wonder if each thundering blast comes from the screen, or from the fast-paced beating in your chest amplified by the theater’s Dolby Digital surround sound system.
(Art: “Man and Woman” by Fernand Leger.)
THERE HAVE BEEN examples of pop culture rescuing a nation’s morale. In this country, scarcely a month after the John F. Kennedy assassination came the British Invasion spearheaded by the Beatles– an example of escape from trauma offered by ART. Simultaneously, home grown pop music exploded with the “Sound of Young America” emerging from Motown. The joy didn’t last long– but left as legacy the best pop music ever recorded.
AT THE MOMENT American morale is in the toilet. Glum expressions from Debbie Downers everywhere. “Woe is us!” proclaims the intellectual class on Left and Right. As if the quixotic project called the American Dream Machine were over. To quote (name-drop alert) George Plimpton on the one occasion I met him: “Nonsense!”
If some believe the American experiment is over, with perhaps more perspective from the beaten-down streets of Detroit we see this moment as opportunity for a pop culture explosion.
WHY NOT pop literature? The last time writers were at the center of pop culture was the 1920’s– ironically, a decade that was a huge influence on the Beatles. The “fun-at-all-costs” attitude of the Fitzgeralds’ Jazz Age morphed into early 60’s fun music that rocked the world.
Change will come from literature only if new writers present stronger attitudes, unbeatable confidence and more exciting art. Along with a dollop of pure fun.
If we’re dynamic, there exists as antagonist and obstacle the moldy and static– the artistically inbred Manhattan monolith. We’ve been covering at our News blog the publishing Overdogs who run a phony puppet show known as the National Book Awards. Follow our coverage.
There’s also the ongoing All-Time American Writers Tournament. More to happen there as well, soon. Stay tuned.
(Painting: “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Russell Patterson.)