What Does New Writing Look Like?

Pop Lit Fiction

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?

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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? 

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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.

More Summer Reading 2021

Pop Lit Fiction

Hello! We continue New Pop Lit‘s Summer Reading Festival with another excellent feature story that could/should be in The New Yorker (which I keep mentioning because it’s the only venue which still pays big $$$ for fiction, but this will change). The new story in question is “Symmetry” by Emil Birchman— another reason I mention that magazine in Manhattan is because our new feature has similarities to “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, the only short story published anyplace the last ten years which made a cultural impact. Birchman’s story is also about an awkward, budding relationship, but is better written and more subtle. In it’s own way, like a three-dimensional image in which one can see different things, based on viewpoint.

We ask the question: What do you think of this story? How do you take the ending? What really happened or is happening?

Among other themes, “Symmetry” is about online dating, and more, what phones, computers, and the internet do to relationships and the perception of reality. But let us know what you think.

Fifteen minutes later, they found themselves in the local park synonymous with M.’s dating profile. For some reason, the scenery didn’t have the vibrancy of the pictures. The leaves were green, and pollen clung to the air. But her images weren’t edited, that was for sure. No filters, photoshop or other picture editing shenanigans. And the scenery, the movements on the pond’s surface and the breeze pressing against the foliage were all real. The only difference was the absence of his own filter. . .

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ALSO, be sure to stop by our POP SHOP to peruse the joys of non-online reading. Is there anything more exciting than finding a wonderful new publication, full of colors and stimulating reading, in your mailbox?

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(Art: “A Girl Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)

New Pop Lit’s Summer Reading Festival!

Announcement, Pop Lit Fiction

The summer people choked the road, filled up the taverns, trashed the beachfront, and parked everywhere and anywhere, even in places they shouldn’t.

So begins the feature story kicking off our impromptu Summer Reading Festival 2021, “People Ruin Everything,” by Anne Leigh Parrish, one of the best short story writers going. I don’t know if a story could better capture how everyone feels right now after eighteen months of pandemic, of interruption in our lives we naively thought would be over after three weeks or at most three months, but goes on. The story captures the mood: frustration that may seem illogical, but it’s there, in all of us, as undercurrent to the resumption of our lives.

Anyway, it’s a short story which should be in The New Yorker, but we’re fortunate and grateful to have it at New Pop Lit, and trust you’ll agree with our opinion of it.

She thought about the note they left. She didn’t like being lied to. Some people lived on lies, made a career of them, in some cases. Just look at any politician. She hated people who thought they were smarter than everyone else, who made getting over a full-time job. They’d laughed as they walked up to the car, and they were probably still laughing wherever they were now and wherever they were going.

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What about the rest of our Festival? In coming weeks we’ll be featuring more great new fiction, as well as re-announcing selected readings– fiction and poetry– previously featured at this site. Is that all? NO!

OUR OPEN MIC RETURNS

We’re also restarting our Open Mic feature with a reading of a terrific poem by the UK’s Alisha J. Prince, “Heaven Bound.” Click the link and take a listen.

NEW YORK MEDIA NEWS

We ALSO have at our NPL News Blog a short article about curious doings at iconic Newsweek magazine. Is this the direction in which other New York publications will be headed? What do you think?

POP LIT PRINT READING

FINALLY, check out the print publications we now offer at our POP SHOP— where we’re free to be somewhat more experimental, in attitude, words, and design, than what we present here, as we attempt to cut new paths toward the literary future.

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Anyway, we hope everyone has a glorious summer– and does a lot of reading!

(Featured art: “Two Girls Reading” by Pablo Picasso.)

New Summer Fiction

Pop Lit Fiction

TODAY we present a slice-of-life story by Alex Law, “West Columbus,” about a young woman working as a stripper in a dive bar in a bleak neighborhood of that name. Life in America today? Is the story social commentary? Or merely a great short read?

Maybe it’s just literature— writing of rounded reality and depth which can encompass a number of meanings and viewpoints. Read it for yourself and see.

She ignores him. She isn’t afraid. His casual, daylight misogyny couldn’t be more boring. She lets the silence eat him alive. Bite by bite. Eventually his testosterone fades under the uncomfortable sideways glances from other passengers. He and his stink go away. Every bus Cadie has ever been on has men like this.

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(Featured art: “Nude Woman Reading” by Robert Delaunay.)

Summer Fiction 2020

Pop Lit Fiction

FEATURING A ZEENITH WRITER

Today we break with a hammer one of our set-in-stone rules. (In the past we preferred not to reprint previous published work. In this case it’s for a good cause– to promote our new literary print zeen: ZEENITH.)

chrissi sepe photo

ONE of our featured writers in ZEENITH is Chrissi Sepe— who gave us for it an exotic excerpt from her upcoming novel, Taming Jaguars. (The mentioned jaguars are exotic creatures indeed.) To showcase Chrissi’s talent, we now present at this our online site centerpiece of our project an exotic Sepe short story, “We Love to Watch Zee Cockroaches,” which illustrates the same sharp powers of observation and wry humor exhibited in the excerpt.

(WHILE the story has not appeared online, it was included in an excellent collection of poetry and fiction, Howls from the Underground, produced by Tony and Nicole Nesca, the multi-talented duo at Screamin’ Skull Press. A collection we reviewed here.)

AS A BONUS, Sepe’s story is illustrated by vispo arts innovator Laura Kerr— who incidentally was herself featured in the Screamin’ Skull collection. An array of talented connections.

Laura Kerr Cover Art for Cockroaches Story(c/o Laura Kerr.)

THE BOTTOM LINE is we welcome informal collaborations if they involve the promotion of ART, literary, visual, and otherwise, which is what we’re about. Or that we’ll do what it takes to promote THIS project, and to announce the talented writers in ZEENITH! (Who we’ll have more to say about in days to come.)

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Read the story!

He and Karina sat together on their black leather couch across from the black leather couch Denny and I sat on. “We bore so easily,” Tomas continued. New York City is sometimes boring. That’s why we just booked a flight. We’ll be in Paris by this time tomorrow.”

Then see more photos of ZEENITH at our POP SHOP!
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The Last Party?

Pop Lit Fiction

ON CORONAS AND CONTAGIOUS MUSIC

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s an unusual St. Paddy’s Day because of the fear the hysteria the caution protection prevention over a bug, so the parades are fewer, the parties calmer, celebration muted. This year. Unless there’s a final wild-and-masque’d Edgar Poe blowout someplace. 

APPROPRIATE then that we have as our new feature a short story, “Townies” by Philip Charter, about six friends traveling to Majorca to party. And party they do.

But what awaits them?

A contagion, yes, but a contagion of a different sort. Not a virus, but having something to do with music and sex.

READ IT! drink it inhale it as you quarantine yourself against the onslaughts of panic and madness.

Within one minute of Gavin fading in the music, the dance floor was covered. It was as if the beat was ripping girls out of their seats, me included. The boys of course followed.

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(Painting: “Party” by Emil Nolde.)

Working in the 21st Century

Pop Lit Fiction

A PART of the “pop” designation we’ve adopted is the word populist– which at its most basic level revolves in some way around the world of work. Few things in life are more intense than being thrust into the chaos of a new job– especially those of a low-wage variety. Particularly in the “do more with less” ethos of the 21st century. Hyper-efficiency in the work world be it high tech or fast food puts most of the onus on employees at the bottom of the hierarchy.

AS WE SEE in our latest feature story, “Hamburger Hill” by Irish writer John Higgins.

The manager came out of the office, finally, and strolled towards the grill. Her black shoes slapped off the lino and heralded her approach. She was a portly woman, and carried herself like a government minister, with her hairy arms crossed at the small of her back. To accompany the sound of her steps, she also tapped her knuckles against her palm. She smiled. Most of her teeth were hidden up in her gums, ashamed of their twisted form.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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(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.

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