Of Maps and Melvilles

All-Time American Writers Tournament

One of our favorite lines from Herman Melville’s magical novel Moby Dick is this one:

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

Melville was speaking about the novel form itself. He could as well have been referring to our Tournament. Appropriate, then, that Herman Melville is the third #1 seed entered into the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Read our reasons for his selection– and discover the fourth #1, here.

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Since our theme with this post is the novel, we’ve also written a short review of the latest novel by Samuel Stevens, Lone Crusader. The American has traditionally been a seeker. An adventurer. Melville wrote about this kind of person. So does Stevens.

Adventure was once in the American bloodstream, was long a key component of American writing. “Literary” fiction of the New York/Iowa variety has long discounted this component. Today, we at New Pop Lit celebrate it.

Happy reading!

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The Young Writers: Overview Part III

Feature, Pop Lit Fiction

Our series on new happenings in today’s literary world continues. “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.”

Part III looks at the new generation of writers– literature’s hope and future. We were going to call this section “The Lost,” as a nod to the Lost Generation of the 1920’s, a huge influence on a couple of the best young writers we’ll be featuring. We decided that designation was too downbeat. We’re optimists. We might as likely call this section “The Found”– talented individuals who found writing as their preferred means of expression, when they might instead have been painters or musicians or movie directors.

(Of course, there are no longer painters; musicians are reduced to the atonal or electronic, the human element cut out. Movies? Are there still movies to speak of? The Academy Awards are this weekend, and by all accounts contain not an outstanding crop.)

No, the future belongs to writers– to new literature. We kick off this part of our overview with a new story by Samuel Stevens, “Greener Country Grass.” This will be followed by new work by three other young talents, as fast as we can ready and post them.

Despite his youth (he’s still in college), Samuel Stevens is a thinker, essayist, and novelist, as well as writing in the shorter form. Definitely a name on the literary scene for years to come. Read his story now.

“Do you have a lot of money like Ray?” one of them asked.

She took me aback. “No,” I said. Ray did come from a well off family. The girls were all a little drunk; Loeb must have been keeping them supplied while I talked to the bartender. I pulled up a chair and sat down.

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(Painting: “The Red Tower” by Robert Delaunay.)

Pushcart Time

Announcement

OUR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINATIONS

All Hail Pushcart! Yes, we’re one of the many small literary outfits who applaud the Pushcart Prize collections– though we have reservations. To discover what they are, and at the same time find out which works we nominated for the annual awards this year, read this.

Have we missed the boat this year with our picks? Are we all wet? Living in Fantasyland? Let us know!

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This week we’ve also kicked off a can’t miss Cat Poetry Festival at our Fun Pop Poetry feature, here.

Diminutives

Pop Lit Fiction

(“Premonition” by Walter Nessler copyright Royal Air Force Museum.)

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Our month-long Hemingway celebration continues with a striking new story by Samuel Stevens, “Diminutives,” whose setting of Paris is a nod to Ernest Hemingway and the Lost Generation. But so is its style. Few writers understand what Ernest Hemingway was fully up to when he revolutionized writing. Stevens is one of them.

Note how Stevens’ story is like a Modernist painting– a collage of parts expressing the fragmentation of our time. As if helplessly riding a bus about to crash, we’re replaying– reliving– that broken insane world Hemingway experienced. Around us is a sense of foreboding. Imminence. Chaos.

Stevens’ story is simple but at the same time it’s a mix of impressions and ideas. A splash of confusion, or a slap in the face. The story is there in front of us, like a painting. Right there. It’s very short, but there’s enough in it to like or dislike. Or hate.

Provocative and topical.

But what do you think?

There were no subjects to write about any more, either in America or here; the world was too mixed up to really stop and look at it.

A Month of Hemingway!

Announcement

That’s what we have planned for the month of July anyway. Toward that end, New Pop Lit‘s editors drive up this weekend to Petoskey and environs in northern Michigan, looking for the ghost of Nick Adams. Searching for the elusive roots of “Papa” and his literary art.

Why Hemingway, you ask?

Because Ernest Hemingway was American literature’s greatest pop icon– the last writer whose persona was huge enough to overshadow other pop celebrities of his time– from movie actors to sports figures to pop singers. Sinatra, Gable, Dempsey, DiMaggio– Hemingway was a bigger cultural figure than any of them.

What do we have planned?

-Photos and descriptions of our Petoskey excursion.

-Answers to our second Big Lit Question, which concerns Ernest the Hem. See this.

-New work from two talented young writers, Samuel Stevens and Jess Mize, which if not completely Hemingway themed, is Hemingway inspired.

Our objective in presenting these two striking talents is to recreate some of the excitement that occurred when young Hemingway himself began writing, in his twenties, in the 1920’s– likely the most exciting American literary decade.

-Plus any and all other Hemingway ideas and stuff we can come up with and implement in coming weeks.

You will not want to miss ANY of it!

Interview with Samuel Stevens

Interview

New ideas.

Our mission here at New Pop Lit is to present exciting new ideas. No, we’re not a stale-and-stodgy business-as-usual literary site. We exist to CHANGE the literary scene. Change is inevitable. Change is sweeping. Change is part of nature and people. Constant. Onrushing.

Meanwhile, established literature operates as if it were still in the early 19th century. Tops-down, insular and clubby, promoting a literary art which changes at a turtle’s pace. (We give established literati enough credit not to call them snails.)

Where is literature going?

In our quest for answers we interview up-and-coming writer Samuel Stevens for our Hype page. Part of our showcasing the nation’s best new writers.

If you want to stay current on the future of books, publishing, and writing you have to read this site! As always, we welcome your feedback.

There’s definitely a shift in the zeitgeist. It’s just a very long battle. It’s not just “liberals” who limit free speech, you also have major corporations–the same ones mainstream conservatism loves to defend–love to push the same message.

 

Breaking into Publishing

Essay

Ideas! New Pop Lit is first and foremost a project of ideas. In a period when the public is demanding populist change, we advertise ourselves as literary change agents.

Toward that end we’re offering an essay by Samuel Stevens about publishing, outlining how writers who seek to change the literary art– who offer new aesthetic ideas– have often faced difficulties.

The critics of the day repudiated authors with mountains of literary criticism about them now. Names like Hemingway, Pound, Joyce, Eliot were at one time the enemy. Hemingway’s friend, the memory-holed author Robert McAlmon, published Three Stories and Ten Poems; the New York world wasn’t interested in the young Hemingway’s work. 

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Sam Stevens is included in our first “Lit Question of the Month” feature at our Extras!/Interactive blog, along with twenty-three other writers. The response was such– the answers uniformly terrific– that we’re likely to try the feature again. The list includes DIYers– bloggers, self-publishers, zinesters; those changing the literary product– but also status quo reps, from university professors and creative writing instructors, to long-time award-winning story writers Kelly Cherry, T.C. Boyle, and Madison Smartt Bell, to best-selling novelist Scott Turow. Among their number is possibly even a member of the dreaded literary establishment!– if that animal can be credibly identified. We thank them all for the generosity of their time and their minds. Read the answers here.

We ask readers to join the conversation. What’s your favorite answer? Your least favorite? Take a minute and tell us in the Comments section.