Technicolor World

Essay

THIS WEEKEND is the largest of the many “Dream Cruise” events taking place every summer in the Detroit area. A parade of many hundreds of colorful classic cars– most from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s– in this instance cruising up and down Woodward Avenue, long the main drag in town.

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A dream cruise is a celebration of summer and of car culture, engaged in by fans of the unique blend of technology and artistry which the automobile at its best represents. They’re a celebration of Detroit, and really, of America. 

But what they are also is a celebration of color and style. Technicolor-level style and color, which seem to have vanished from today’s monochrome world.

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Many movie directors today bleed much of the color out of their flicks. Gone are the glories of a vibrant assault of sensation, as experienced by moviegoers of a bygone era. The problem is that this same process has taken place in the world at large. Including in many aspects of today’s culture.

(Melodrama? What’s melodrama? Where any longer is an over-the-top expression of emotion and plot?)

We’ve become a cautious, timid society, everyone monitoring their words, thoughts, and emotions. Can’t have too many emotions, or you’ll be medicated. The watchword is safety. Play it safe! Which for the creative artist is death.

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A handful of snarky New York City film critics dismissed Quentin Tarantino’s new film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” as too retro. Artistically reactionary. A celebration of a bygone era never to come back. But is it? Isn’t it rather a celebration of the glories of style and ART?
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The past two summers we’ve featured what might be considered Technicolor fiction. Awash in color, and also romance. Young love. Upbeat expressions of the possibilities of life, which still exist if we step out of our cocoons of doom and grab for them.

Last year we ran “The Austin Strangler” by Nick Gallup.

This year, we featured Angelo Lorenzo‘s “Spoiler Alert.”

These are both fun, “pop” reads with a pop sensibility and outlook– painted as much as written on the page.

Read them, or reread them. They represent the basic foundation of what we and the pop-lit style are all about.
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(Painting: “Airplanes on the Metropolis” by Tullio Crali.)

Enter the New Year

Announcement

In the first weeks of 2019 we’ll be on a relaxed schedule as we work behind the scenes to improve this project– as well as focusing on our own writing a bit as we experiment with new ways of crafting the short story. Looking for an elusive breakthrough. Knowing unless we find it, fiction will be stuck in a rut, and all literary sites like ours along with it.

Art NEEDS to change. Our literature NEEDS to be different– at least show variety away from  the same-old same-old.

The short story first. Then, poetry. Then, the novel. Then: the world?

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THE NEW POP LIT PROJECT IS FAR FROM OVER.

Writing: Search for the Genuine

Pop Lit Fiction

WE TALK OFTEN here at New Pop Lit headquarters about Hemingway’s “True Gen”: How to define it and how to find it– the thread of thought provoked by the death of singer-songwriter Pat Dinizio , long-time front man of working-class New Jersey rock band The Smithereens.

Smithereens

The band never quite hit the big time– yet were the genuine article, creating simple strong passionate art. This took us to a low rent same-named work from another medium: Susan Seidelman’s classic (?) indie film about the 1980’s punk scene: “Smithereens.”

Smithereens 11
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The genuine is a quest, not always a destination. The search for the authentic involves the artist getting as close as possible to real experience– to find the true moment, the genuine emotion.

How do we find new writing of piercing reality?

By being open to it. This week we present a short story of tough background and authentic emotion,  “Eighty Pounds” by Michigan writer Jon Berger. It’s about high school, classes, cliques, class, drugs, jobs, work: life. Not Manhattan literary slickness. Instead: reality, truth, grit. Read it.

Those guys in there, it’s like they knew how to size me up. Guys in the world, like Will, they only saw that I was in dumb classes and that I didn’t play sports or they saw where I lived and they thought that was my size.
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(Painting: “The Boulevard” by Gino Severini.)

 

 

The Gambling Game

Pop Lit Fiction

OUR LAST featured story was about chess. With our new feature we’re staying on the theme of strategy and challenge, with Alan Swyer’s “Shut Up and Deal,” an examination of the machinations behind high-level poker playing. It’s a story about protege and mentor. About novice and knowledge. About learning a skill in the face of mind games and chaos. In other words, it’s a metaphor for life!

Written in a fast “pop” style, the story matches the speed of the game– and the hyperbolic process a student must undergo to be a success. We hope you enjoy it!

Radiating old money, the card room was a world which few civilians ever got to experience. Yet in the midst of captains of industry and scions of prominent families sat Eddie, who was seemed to be regarded as somehow less than human.

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(Art: “The Card Players” by Theo van Doesburg.)

 

Experiments in Pop III

Pop Lit Fiction

WE LOOK for writers to invent pop lit style– new writing which is readable but also intelligent, meaningful, and real.

This week we have a new story by Dr. Wred Fright which qualifies as a possible pop lit template: “Operative 72 Takes a Swim.”

29) 73 wasn’t sure how much time had passed. There was always just the sea, the sun, and an island full of retired intelligence operatives rewarded with Sodom in the South Pacific.

65) Johnson was very drunk one night. “God wouldn’t care,” he said, pointing around at the rest of the bar, “If we killed every single one of them.”
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American literature needs to be reinvented to retain credibility as an art form– for it NOT to be ghettoized within the broader culture. With changing technology, the art itself must change.

We believe in artistic change. The more esteemed “literary” segments of publishing have forever been last to jump on a change bandwagon.

This dates from 1955, when low-priced paperbacks began conquering the interest of the general reader. Harcourt Brace published a poetry anthology, edited by Oscar Williams, containing work from all the great American poets. Distinguished publishers Charles Scribners and Sons, and the MacMillan Company, refused to to permit the work of their poets, T.S. Eliot and Allen Tate among them, to appear in the paperback edition– because it was a paperback.

Question: Does literature belong to an enlightened few, or to everyone?
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(Painting by Paul Gauguin.)

Detroit Meets New York

Pop Lit Fiction

We could call this week’s feature “Portrait of a Young Detroit Guitarist.” We’re privileged to run excerpts from an exciting new novel by a New York City photographer. “Frisky Moser” (his pen name) was once in a Detroit rock band, and has now penned a fictionalized-and-fresh version of events, “Jack Strat and His Baby Blues.”

Lately there’s been an influx of talented New Yorkers– artists, entrepreneurs, edge-seekers– into Detroit, as the Motor City continues its comeback. The aptly-named Frisky is evidence it’s a two-way interchange.

She started putting on makeup, mostly working her lashes and lips, checking me out as I was sitting on the couch with my guitar in my lap. I could see her stealing glances at me in the mirror. We were alone.
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Art: “Harlequin with Guitar 1919” by Juan Gris.
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With the fiction and at our Features page you’ll find actual photos of Jack– and his boots.
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(Also keep up-to-date with the All-Time American Writers Tournament.)

A Pop Canon?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

Did pop literature exist in the past?

Absolutely! Our latest bracket selections for the big Tournament include two of the most famous, hugely popular, world-renowned writers ever— both American– in the persons of Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. From the days when the most fascinating, charismatic, or crazy persons in society became writers. (Which made for fascinating reading.)

Another selectee, Emily Dickinson, could be called a pop poet. The fourth, Tennessee Williams, a pop playwright? That’s stretching it.

Does their work hold up?

Read Jack London’s terrific story “Lost Face” and find out.

–in the foundations of the world was graved this end for him– for him, who was so fine and sensitive, whose nerves scarcely sheltered under his skin, who was a dreamer, and a poet, and an artist. Before he was dreamed of, it had been determined that the quivering bundle of sensitiveness that constituted him should be doomed to live in raw and howling savagery–

POP!

Pop Fiction

WE PRESENT not just pop lit, but sometimes straight pop, on our path toward true “fusion” fiction. No less a personage than Jonathan Franzen has claimed to have a similar goal– except that in his ultra-long novels there’s less entertainment value than in a single story by Alan Swyer– and less than one-tenth the heart.

Doubt it? Read Alan’s new tale “Country Sweetheart” to see what the pop lit revolution is about.

Writers are reinventing the short story art! We’ve been covering this in our ongoing series, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” In conjunction with running Alan’s story we present Part IV of the series at our News blog. This section is devoted to– what else?– pop writers.

Grab the New!

“When the world gets weird, instead of doing a Dusty Springfield –”

“A what?”

“‘Wishing And Hoping’ that things’ll change, you’ve got to do something so that you’re who’s changing.”

“That what you do?”

“It’s what I’m doing.”

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Vigorous Pop

Pop Fiction

To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to pop fiction we present as feature a new Norbert Kovacs story, “The Fight.”  American literature became thoroughly American when it became thoroughly vigorous– expressing the tough lives and harsh environment of the American landscape. Back in the days when American lit, via writers like Jack London and Rex Beach, was thoroughly populist– not simply a plaything for generously-educated elitists in Brooklyn wine bistros or Manhattan drawing rooms.

We believe you’ll find the Kovacs story a far cry from that refined lifestyle! (Incidentally, when we continue our Overview of new literature, we’ll address the “Pop” side of the pop lit equation– this story a preview.)

Bruises colored his chest like dark blue medallions. His shoulder received a scarlet gash from a punch that had torn him. Mort strained to stand up under McCurdley’s new blows. He had to tell himself to fight. Deliver, he thought. Hit. He lunged and swung.

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(Painting by Fyodor Bronnikov.)

 

Pop Lit Style

Pop Lit Fiction

We’re stylists. We look for writers who are creating what we consider to be pop lit style. That elusive hybrid that’s both “pop” and “literature.”

One of the best of them is Calder Lorenz. His story for us, “The Good Road Gone,” has elements of noir combined with a terse style and a sense of the literary. Pop writing that means something. We think you’ll like it.

He heard the car door. He looked at the clock on the windowsill: 3:04. He smiled at that. He got the rifle and then he loaded the clip. He wore a gold medal around his neck: St. Anthony. It was a gift. Something lucky he’d gotten before he’d gone off.

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(Also read our News blog notice on Calder’s just-released novel.)

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Art by Sonia Delaunay.