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–
PART OF OUR MISSION at New Pop Lit is to present the most powerful fiction we can find, from the best new writers. We fulfill that mission with our newest short story, “The Fetus,” by Clint Margrave. It’s a tale of high school and bullying, but it’s more than that. Art’s task is to give us the complexity and confusions of life; of our crazy, cruel, three-dimensional world.
The bell rang and Mr. Schlosser asked us to open our textbooks to the introductory chapter.
“Biology is the study of living things,” he said. “One of the central questions we’ll be exploring this semester is what does it mean to be alive?”
(Artwork: “Still Life” by Juan Gris.)
p.s. Also stay up on the All-Time American Writers Tournament!
THIS WEEK we briefly explore the subculture of literature with our long-overdue final installment of Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age, in which we examine a diverse array of personalities from Bob Dylan to Aaron Cometbus, on up to underground writers of now– who create work just a tad rougher, wilder, and real than standard refined “literary” writing.
Accompanying the essay is a new story by one of our favorite zine writers, fishspit. The story is titled, “I Was a Juvenile Delinquent– Now I’m Just a Delinquent.”
Even the title wouldn’t make it through an MFA program!
Them teachers weren’t the sharpest set of educators. You had to be pretty doltish to wind up down there . . . nobody with an ounce of spirit, a dram of intelligence, would put up with that kind of horror-show. We were a regular freak show . . . the teachers were about as intelligent as carnies.
(ONGOING at one of our blogs is the All-Time American Writers Tournament. The latest news there is an appreciation of a prominent American author by Samuel Stevens. Don’t miss a post!)
LOS ANGELES has long been the most extreme example of American excess. Many writers have tried to capture SoCal’s special vibration; its captivating mix of ethnicity, cars, class, color/weather/nature jammed together like an expressionist painting come alive. One of the best writers on the subject is Robin Wyatt Dunn– who appeared in our modest first New Pop Lit print issue with a terrific story about Los Angeles. Now he’s given us another one, “Travelogue,” full of reality and imagination. A journey through L.A., but also, perhaps, through somewhere else. A Robin Dunn story is always a unique experience. Don’t miss this one!
Here in the Big Sleep there is no moon, so the sea is tideless. However, it does move. Creeping tendrils of water you will find anywhere along it, shimmering in the darkness. I have walked along Seaside on many a moonless night.
Speaking of California, be sure to read D.C. Miller’s Appreciation of Philip K. Dick, part of our ongoing All-Time American Writers Tournament.
(Painting: “Herbstlandschaft mit Booten” by Wassily Kandinsky.)
We’re near the end of spring– early enough for cool summer reading as heat descends upon the landscape.
Questions: Are there forces in the universe beyond our understanding? Does a talisman actually work?
These questions are asked in our new story, “Sweet Spring” by Scott Cannon, one of our favorite writers. If you want an enjoyable read, this is it!
It was dark within, but I thought I saw something pale in the heart of it. I was shoulder deep in the roots when I heard you ask if I found anything. My hand closed on something cool and smooth, and I drew it out.
(Painting: “Springtime in Giverny” by Claude Monet.)
THE FUTURE is in fiction and poetry written with clarity and conciseness. Short and to the point. Read quickly but meaningfully on an app.
Toward that end, we present a short short by our own Kathleen M. Crane, “Aloha from Detroit Revisited.” Set in Detroit’s punk rock scene near the end of the millennium, it’s a replay of an earlier tale by K.M.C., “Aloha from Detroit”– the title work in her e-book short story collection. “Revisited” presents a different perspective on the same events. Providing a different angle. A more rounded look.
We’re based in Detroit, where we hear and read much about how the auto companies– not known for being cutting edge– have to adapt to the technologies of the 21st Century. How moreso literature!– whose Manhattan mandarins operate with the mindset of the 19th.
As lit moves onto new platforms like smart phones and e-books, the style of writing itself has to adapt and change. Slow-paced thoughts won’t work. Word-clotted writing is dead– whether from James Joyce or Joyce C. Oates; Jon Franzen or the acolytes of David Foster Wallace. In ten years the heavily-lauded writers of the present will be obsolete.
They already are. Writing is changing, via flash fiction and pop poetry. We’re at the forefront of that change.
He wondered who was dealing Rick, after his warnings. He shrugged. Rick was an adult. He glanced at Rick, pale and slumped under his black mohawk at the end of the bar. Sure, an adult.
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 –”
“‘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.”
AT ITS BEST flash fiction gives you real life in short bursts. Could one say the effect, from an artistic standpoint, is cubist? Sample two new flash pieces by Andrew Sacks to see. One story’s about a marriage. The other, about a job interview. Fast-but-sharp reading.
Miles had always tried to compensate by a self-confidence bordering on bluster. Certainly not a bully, he did in fact seem to intimidate many people, or at least put them on their heels a bit, by his overriding assertiveness and swagger. His belief in himself was absolute. . . .
We’ve also tweaked our “Young Writers” essay, including the fourth profile, of Jess Mize. Are these four writers the future of literature? Do they point a way forward for the literary art– bringing new imagination, charisma, and talent? Read the essay. We’ll be spotlighting other young writers in coming months.
(Painting by Juan Gris.)
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.
(Painting by Fyodor Bronnikov.)
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.
(Also read our News blog notice on Calder’s just-released novel.)
Art by Sonia Delaunay.