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.
(Art: “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe” by Van Gogh; “Blue Room” by Picasso.)
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.
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.)
THE STRUGGLES OF A WRITER can seem lonely indeed– often resulting in rejection and neglect. Yet they keep at it, pursuing their art because they believe it’s important to express truths about life and the world.
When those struggles find notice– and a sense that a reader gets it, understands what the work’s about, this keeps the writer (and in our case, editors) going. No, the effort expended was not for naught!
Christopher Landrum at the literary site Bookbread has examined here four recent short stories, three of which appeared at New Pop Lit. They are:
–“The Fetus” by Clint Margrave.
–“Eighty Pounds” by Jon Berger.
–“The Professor” by A.K. Riddle.
If you’ve read these three excellent tales, they’re worth rereading. If you haven’t, please do so! Then see what Mr. Landrum says about them.
(Art: “The Passion of Creation” by Leonid Pasternak; “Woman Writing” by Gerard ter Borch.)
At New Pop Lit we’re continually on the lookout for new talent combined with striking personality– recognizing that talent is often if not always the expression of personality.
WE’RE AWARE and we’ve been aware for some time that the literary scene needs “stars.” It needs personas, BIG, bigger-than-Hemingway personalities, dramatic figures crafting unorthodox unpredictable fictions or poems taking the literary art in new directions, to new heights.
IN THIS ongoing search we have today two possible future literary earthshakers.
Our new featured fiction, “The Hunting Cabin,” is by Brian Eckert, one of the best independent short story writers on today’s scene– independent in the sense of not writing to please take-no-chances Manhattan magazine editors, or even paint-by-the-numbers university professors. Eckert writes for the unseen artistic conscience. His story is three-dimensionally honest. More rounded, with more depth– puzzles and questions– than usual literary fare.
WE ALSO have, along with Brian’s perspective, an equally powerful but quite different viewpoint from talented poet Kristin Garth, who’s been getting much attention lately across the internet, and who has kindly offered New Pop Lit a short recording for our ongoing Open Mic. Her poem is called “Kristins.” We believe you’ll find it striking.
We try to be a window on new literature!
(Paintings: “Matterhorn” by Edward Theodore Compton; “Window with Orange Curtains” by Robert Delaunay.)
A REMINDER that when we choose to we can push the edges of the usual, if not the acceptable, as far as anyone, due to our underground roots and DIY from-the-bottom viewpoint on all things cultural.
AS EXAMPLE we have our recently-posted feature story, “Cat Doctor” by mysterious on-the-arts-margins D.C. Miller, holding a mirror up to the clean and smug of today’s approved intellectual world.
THEN there’s our newly-placed book review of a new work by indie press figure Tony Nesca at our book chat blog.
FINALLY we have our ongoing Open Mic, with a reading of a striking poem by Brian Eckert along with other dynamic spoken word performances– with more to come.
(Art: “Accolade” by Edmund Blair Leighton.)
THE SECOND story in our look at today’s dating scene is a much darker animal: “Cat Doctor” by D.C. Miller. Ostensibly a response to The New Yorker‘s recent Kristen Roupenian story “Cat Person,” it’s more than that– it’s a look at the malaise of the West’s current intellectual class. People who believe in nothing– not even themselves. Whose ideological inanities, post-conceptual art and postmodern literature are an expression of nothing. Representations of the void at the center of their lives. A world in which the villains aren’t men or women, but everyone.
Appropriately, the story is set in Berlin, a city forever on the cutting edge of the end of Western civilization. Last stop before the nightmare of gotterdammerung and oblivion.
It was a catchy statement, and she liked it, but she wasn’t certain where to take it, whether it was true or not, and even if it was, what it would imply. She heard the sound of someone sighing audibly, like an echo from another room, and for a moment felt confused, before she realized it was her.
IN THE FACE of such a pessimistic, albeit truthful, examination of relations between men and women, of ideas and culture, we remain optimists. We believe the culture will turn over because it has to turn over– it’s at a dead end, with nowhere to go but to scrap the present and embrace another direction.
(Featured painting: “The Night” by Max Beckmann. Other: “Sjalusi i Badet” by Edvard Munch.)
WE BELIEVE the only way to find truth in this fallen world is to look at life three-dimensionally. Which means, observing an object, idea, or person from more than one vantage point.
When dealing with a complex topic– like men and women; like dating– it’s best to present more than one narrative on the subject. Otherwise you might be perceived to be taking sides, even when you’re not.
Oh, we know. That’s not how it’s done at places like The New Yorker, which gained rare attention for their moldering enterprise earlier this year when they published a short story about the dating scene. AS we’ve received a strong submission which might be a response to their tale (due here in a week)– and AS we’re unable to publish their story ourselves, New Pop Lit‘s Kathleen M. Crane was asked, as Contributing Editor, to contribute her own perspective on the pitfalls of dating. The result is “Red Panties and a Guitar.” We hope you’ll find it an entertaining take on the #MeToo movement.
I went home disgusted. How could I continue in a relationship with someone so obviously self-centered? . . . But I did continue.
FAR AHEAD of her time in examining these issues– of men and women; of dating– was proto-Jungian author Jane Austen, whose profound insight was that things aren’t always as they seem– they might be the opposite of how they seem and what people believe them to be. In her best novel, Pride and Prejudice, the revelation is startling. The good guy shown to be bad guy– bad guy revealed as good guy. Slick libertine unmasked as pedophile, while the stoic snob everyone hates must ride, literally, to the rescue. Austen’s situations are surprisingly contemporary. Perhaps we’ve not changed as much, AS human beings, as we like to think.
Austen’s novels well illustrate New Pop Lit‘s beliefs about the three-dimensional viewpoint.
(Art: “Still Life with Guitar” by Juan Gris.)
READERS enjoy stories which deliver an emotional punch. This is not all that stories can do, but it’s one of the things stories can do.
It might take the writer 500 pages in a novel to deliver the impact. Or it might take a shorter time period– which is what the short story is about. Condensed emotion. Concentrated impact.
Our current story, “Racquetball” by Don Waitt, condenses many things into a small narrative space. Families, history, loss. Less can be more. Take a look.
“And I saw my Mom getting sucked into a black hole of despair. It was like looking into an old brick well filled with cold, dark swirling water being sucked into the bowels of the earth, and my Mom was in the middle of that water. And I knew that if I did not reach down and grab her hand and pull her up, she would be lost forever.”
Be sure to check out New Pop Lit‘s Open Mic feature. Dan Nielsen is our current performer– with more spoken word to come, including from Brian Eckert and Philadelphia poetry legend Frank D. Walsh!
(Painting: “Kosovo Maiden” by Uros Predic.)
THE LARGEST TOPIC for any writer– the greatest expanse of territory to cover– is the human mind. BUT WE ALSO live in a time with a dystopian vibe. Combine the two elements and you create fearful possibilities for the reader.
Our newest feature story, “Unraveling” by Tianna Grosch, is a plunge into the depths and memories of the mind– at the same time it’s a commentary on the contemporary age, on a kind of soullessness consuming everyone. Writers and artists seek metaphors for what’s happening. Zombies, pods, androids, robots. Loss of affect. Of emotion, depth, mind. What does it mean? Where are we going? Where have we been?
There’s much to be discovered in this thought-provoking tale by a talented young writer.
The doctors’ infinite, empty eyes peered out above crisp white masks. Masks shrouding the remainder of their faces so the crown of heads surrounding him became nothing more than a sea of irises ranging in color and depth, but never in emotion.
(Paintings: “Murnau” by Vassily Kandinsky; “Hospital Ward in Arles” by Vincent van Gogh.)
New talent? WHO is devoted to new writing talent?
WE are! As we seek to move the center of literature out of the golden island of Manhattan, we’re hearing from new writers from the heartland of this country. Our plan: To showcase talented writers before they approach or cross the many barriers erected by the established publishing industry. To spotlight the best new writers first, before anyone else locates them.
Toward that end we present Two Flash Fiction works about life today by Alexander Olson. One is about consumerism. The other is about a dying relative. Both different– expressing emotions ranging from cynicism to compassion. Both are thought provoking.
She didn’t deserve me gazing at the floor, wondering vaguely if it was always like this. She deserved movie-quality sadness. Broadway-level grief.
Be sure to check out all the many other things happening at our site– audio; reviews; news. An easy way is to click on the drop-down menu at “All Other” on this page. Thanks!
(Featured painting: “Isle of the Dead” by Arnold Bocklin.)