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

****

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 Sharp Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

AS WE WAIT to introduce to the world in one month the innovation we call the 3D Short Story, we have a couple fictional works to present first. (As well as several new poems.) The two fictional works are different from the norm– in keeping with our 2019 mission to present new experiences to New Pop Lit readers.

The first of the two stories, by talented story writer Sophie Kearing, is “This Is.” We hope you enjoy it.

Every time she thinks about me, the skeletal digits of an invisible hand squeeze all the comfort from me like juice from a lemon. The hand keeps me firmly planted in the darkness, unable to reach any of the good feelings.

****
ALSO, we have a new post at our NPL News blog about the aforementioned 3D Story– and whether critics of all varieties will be ready for it. Is literary change upon us? Maybe!

*******

(Public domain art c/o stockfreeimages.com.)

Edgy Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

TODAY we feature tough new fiction looking at the punk rock scene in New York City during a period when the monster metropolis itself was uber-tough– “Raga Punk Rock” by E.H. Davis.

The author describes the story as “a portrait of a recognizable character from the 70’s punk rock scene in New York City. My intention was to explore the Zeitgeist of angst that drove the youth of that period to a slow slide into alienation and suicide.”

Suffice it to say it’s an excellent story, with a New York vibe– we both loved it, including the ending. You’ll want to read it.

Shivering in a thin, parachute-silk jacket, collar up, red beret atop his curly mane, twenty-five-year-old Angelo streaked south on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, swerving around the puddles in his high lace-up boots, eyes downcast, alert for anything of value on the abandoned streets.

George_Bellows_-_New_York (1)****

SPEAKING OF FICTION, work in the labs at New Pop Lit Headquarters continues on the quixotic project we’re calling the 3D short story.  For information on what that’s about, see this post at our New Pop Lit News blog, or this one.
****

(Art: “The Knife Grinder” by Kazimir Malevich; “New York” by George Bellows.)

New Pop Lit Goes International

book review, Pop Lit Fiction

WE EXPECT New Pop Lit to eventually be a worldwide phenomenon, so we’re not averse to spotlighting writers from around the world. We’ve published or presented writers from UK, Germany, Poland, Canada, Malta, Italy, Belarus, Spain, Israel, Switzerland– and we’ve had readers on every continent, with the possible exception of Antarctica.

Today we present new fiction, “The Major,”  by renowned Russian author Vladimir Kozlov, translated by Andrea Gregovich. Worth reading for its realism but also to see what’s happening in other literary scenes.

“Well, I have evidence not only that you’ve seen it before, but that you were directly involved in its creation. Do you know what this is called?

“A comic book, I guess.”

“It’s called ‘spreading deliberately false fabrications to defame the Soviet state and social order.’ Article seventy-two of the Criminal Code for the BSSR. I can also pull up Article 58-10: ‘Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.’”
*******

BUT, at the same time we also present a New Pop Lit review of Mr. Kozlov’s entire new short story collection, 1987 and Other Stories, of which “The Major” is part.

ONLY at New Pop Lit. Always at the literary forefront.
*******

(Painting: “Blue Crest” by Wassily Kandinsky.)

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?

globe

THE NEW POP LIT PROJECT IS FAR FROM OVER.

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, 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?

*******

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

What Happened to Proletarian Literature?

Populist Fiction

THERE WAS A TIME. . . .

There was a time when the American literary scene was defined by proletarian writing. Notably in the 1930’s, with the novels of John Steinbeck (Cannery Row, In Dubious Battle, The Grapes of Wrath) but from others, all-but-forgotten names like Horace McCoy, James T. Farrell, and Jack Conroy. The genre became so important that no less an author than Ernest Hemingway tried his hand at it, with the regrettable artistic and commercial failure To Have and Have Not.

After World War II the literary establishment, whether from reasons of commerce or ideology, de-emphasized populist writing. Scattered authors continued to add their insights and experiences. The excellent novella On the Line by Harvey Swados (1957) was one of them. By and large, though, with the rise of middle-class MFA programs and word-focused “literary” writing, the proletarian style of American literature fell by the wayside.

WHAT is the proletarian style? It’s marked by unpretentious prose– no sparkling Updike stylistic fireworks, sorry. No David Foster Wallace convoluted ruminations. Instead, simple accumulation of hard experience, focused on the working class, usually about economic hardship or collapse. Leaving the reader with a very different sort of impact. As if the reader had been– appropriately– punched between the eyes.

WE have an excellent contemporary example of the form, from a writer of now, Tim O’Connor, who gives us “The Baler.” In his story O’Connor expresses past hopes along with a disillusion which runs through many new writers. Amid a swiftly-changing world, an absence of faith in the future– in their future. As the editors of this site are from the long-beaten-down city of Detroit, we know that feeling well. As if the floor has dropped out from beneath you.

“The Baler” is a visit into a land alien to many Americans, the industrial world–

It’s the kind of scene you’d expect a factory worker to thrive in. The one where all the men at the bar are middle-aged and overweight. A majority of them have thick mustaches and wear thirty-year-old hats with retro beer logos on them. If you squint your eyes hard enough you can imagine them crushing cans of Schlitz, commiserating over another failed pennant race by the Tribe under the glow of a neon sign.

Thmas Hart Benton-Boomtown-mural

*******

(Art: “Detroit Industry” by Diego Rivera; “Boomtown” by Thomas Hart Benton.)

 

Our Insane World

Pop Lit Fiction

WE meaning mankind have existed in insane periods in the past many writers and artists throughout history have been judged or diagnosed insane including Van Gogh and others like Dostoevsky Beethoven and Kafka have been on the edge, there have been crazy times, but have they been quite as extreme and chaotic as flat out mad crazy as OUR time? Now, in 2018?

Blame it on electronic media? Facebook? Twitter? Video games? The collapse of culture and decay of civilization?

TO ILLUSTRATE today’s madness we present to you the reader a story by Andrew Walker, “Blue Men in Black Coats,” which floats in between reality and madness, so that we ask, “Is this real? Any of this real? Or is it too real?” The story is too spot on, too much a presentation of now and the insane world which surrounds us.

The blue men do not look at you. From the books you’ve read, the shows you used to watch, the notes scribbled down in the pocket notebook you don’t use enough, you figured they would be some sort of bizarre, alien force come to act as a metaphor, an image, a symbol. Something come alive from the stories you have yet to write.

But these blue men appear to only be existing as anyone else would: to enjoy their Saturday.

picass_blue_room

(Art: “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe” by Van Gogh; “Blue Room” by Picasso.)

 

 

How to Save Literature

Pop Fiction

WHAT?? Experimental DIY author Wred Fright is going to save literature?

Well, he and others like him will if they maintain their imaginative ways of looking at fiction and literature– at what qualifies as fiction and literature. New ways of presenting the art, being readable, hooking unaware members of the greater populace on reading. Sorry, folks, but in the long run– or really, the short run– well-crafted New Yorker stories full of long paragraphs of finely-tuned verbiage putting masses of Manhattan commuters on trains and subways, or businesspersons on crowded airplane flights, to sleep just aren’t going to cut it.

Fiction needs what to compete?

First, immediacy. Second, the unfamiliar. The humorous or surprising.

Tolstoy_by_Repin_1901_cropped

WE’RE NOT saying Wred Fright is Tolstoy, mind you. (Though one never knows how he’ll be treated in future centuries as mankind keeps changing. He may well be taught in 2118 at online universities, the brick and mortar kind having been long closed or turned into the very WalMarts that Mr. Fright loves to mock!)

Enough of this– read “Yelp in Reverse.” Thanks for being here!

It’s two in the morning, I just want to keep doing shots in the manager’s office and get through the night at what has to be the worst Walmart in America. I want to get out of this hellhole, but a gal dreaming of a lucrative career in retail management has to start somewhere.

*******
KEEP UP on News of the Literary World at New Pop Lit News.
*******

(Main art: “Still Life of Books” by Jan Davidszoon de Heem. Tolstoy painting by Repin.)