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.
The wait is over. Anticipation ends. The moment has arrived. The new story has pulled up outside. We present an attempt at–
THE 3–D 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.
To read arguments for why the literary art needs to change, go to our NPL News blog.
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!
(Art: “The Arrival” by Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson.)
WE DON’T KNOW if we’ll be the ones to punch a hole in the culture which talented-but-undiscovered writers can jump through. But we know someone will, and soon. There are too many outsider writers better than those in the established New York-based literary order for artistic upheaval not to occur.
That there needs to be alternate centers of literary and publishing activity to the New York monolith, in other parts of the country, is stating the obvious. The way to do this is by creating better literary products along with inexpensive ways of producing those products.
For us, it’s all or nothing. Breakthrough at some point or fold up shop.
Our chief tool to achieve our objectives is a new literary product which we’ve been calling–
THE 3–D SHORT STORY
When’s the last time someone seriously tried to reinvent one of the standard literary forms?
Allen Ginsberg did it with his poem “Howl.” A long time ago.
Gordon Lish tried to do it with his unique minimalist take on the short story as featured from 1987 to 1995 in his literary journal, The Quarterly— which included the likes of Amy Hempel, Mark Richard, Diane Williams, and many others.
A worthy attempt. But his writers and their writing were too restrained, too tame– they didn’t go nearly far enough with their aesthetics or their imaginations.
OUR attempt at Artistic Breakthrough begins on June 6th, 2019. Word will occur here as soon as one of the completed stories is posted. 3–D Day IS coming.
(Art: “New Planet” by Konstantin Yuon; “Streetlight” by Giacomo Bala.)
STORY PROTOTYPES NEAR READINESS
THE FIRST PUBLIC showing of the 3–D Short Story— the historic date– has been announced at our NPL News page.
THE RELEASE of a completed multi-dimensional story will provide a window into the limitless possibilities of the form. The potential of new art. A starting point.
BEWARE THE NICHE PEOPLE!
WE’VE NOTICED that some literary people like to put other writers into a niche. Such as, “Exactly what kind of poet are you? Are you a flarf poet or an Instapoet or a beat poet, or a trad, or a lake poet, or Elizabethan or Edwardian, or maybe Victorian, modernist or hip-hop, or really, what kind of poet after all do you claim to be what box can we put you in how do we classify you, where can we put you to shorthand you, dismiss you, or otherwise find some way to short circuit our brains so we don’t have to THINK?”
(It’s a variation on labeling everyone according to party or politics: Wear the proper name tag and don’t ever switch sides or change beliefs.)
Which is a roundabout way of saying we have more poetry today, “‘That’ll do, Pig’ and Two Other Poems” by James D. Casey IV, who claims to write every kind of poem, and based on the evidence he’s provided, we believe him. Three poems. Hope you like them.
I’ve dreamt of hunting
vampires with Bukowski
and getting in barfights
with Hemingway and dodging
bats with Thompson and being
lost in the desert with Jim
ON OTHER FRONTS, we have a book review of a short (four stories) short story collection by talented story writer Elizabeth Sims— and:
THE 3-D STORY
WE CONTINUE to ask questions at our NPL News blog about whether or not the short story form needs to change– we strongly believe it does– as we lay the groundwork for the coming release of our solution: the Three-Dimensional Story. A lot going on.
(Art: “”Simultaneous Windows” by Robert Delaunay; “The Architect” by Roger de la Fresnaye; “The Bargeman” by Fernand Leger.)
In the new year we will begin a project aimed at revamping the short story. A feat which won’t happen overnight and which will consist of much focus on how stories are created and constructed. We’re based in metro Detroit and view the short story the way an automotive engineer looks at a car.
THE QUESTION: How can stories be improved? Changed? Rearranged?
A large part of the creation of any art is form. The routes taken of theme and plot, be it linear, circular, or other. Where does the tale begin? At which destination does the reader eventually arrive? What conclusion is drawn, revelation made, emotions aroused? When examining the short story, as a reader, writer, or critic, (or editor!) there’s much to think about.
TODAY we present as our feature a brilliant tale set amid the glamorous-but-deadly streets of historic Granada in Spain. A story which is also a model of form. “Ballad of the Virgin Pain” by Justin Fenech.
AN APT way we believe to wrap up our features of 2018– setting the stage (we hope) for an array of glamorous and exciting presentations to come.
When he went back inside the instruments of torture, big and small, seemed to take on a life of their own; the room swirled violently around him, the instruments seemed to be moving, no, he was moving, he caught glimpses of the rack, the torture chair, the executioner’s black hood, the skeleton broken on the wheel. . . .
(Art: “Night Scene from the Inquisition” by Franciso Goya; “Hall of the Ambassadors, Alhambra” by Joaquin Sorolla.)