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.)
AS A POP LIT website we’re out to redefine the mainstream– but aren’t beyond occasional forays outside our familiar lines if the work deserves it. (Our roots are in the literary underground.) Even if the source of the unfamiliar material is that dreaded monster-metropolis of New York.
(Accompanying NYC music.)
It’s in places of highest power and station– among wavering skyscrapers– that one finds an underside. The literary obverse.
We start then with one of Brooklyn’s best young poets, Rus Khomutoff. He calls his work surpoems. We have four of them here.
in a sea of dotted infinity
the rhythm of life
(Painting: “New York from Brooklyn” by Colin Campbell Cooper.)
NEXT we have an Appreciation from New York avant-garde icon Richard Kostelanetz, of New York poet Frank Kuenstler, part of the ongoing ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT.
Has New Pop Lit been taken over by, gasp!, New Yorkers? Not quite.
NEW POP LIT ATTACKS NEW YORK!
FINALLY, we have a review of the January 29 issue of The New Yorker— flagship of the literary establishment and woefully decrepit. Or: The future is US.
(Feature painting: “Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.)
Should the new short story be entertaining?
ONCE, not much over 100 years ago, the short story was the most popular art form. The American public consumed stories voraciously– work by Jack London, Frank Stockton, Richard Connell, O. Henry, Stephen Crane– even from more refined types like Edith Wharton and Henry James.
What was the hallmark of the short story?
They were entertaining.
Build a better story, we believe, and the public will beat a path toward your door. We’ve already seen steps– baby steps anyway– in that direction in the prestigious-and-usually-snobby pages of The New Yorker. which recently for the first time in decades published a story that some people actually wanted to read.
And so, we give you a tale of suspense and mystery– “The Rottweiler” by Alex Bernstein, one of the best new practitioners of the short story art going. You’ll find in the work a touch of humor, and perhaps a rottweiler or two. Jump into the adventure. . . .
“On the plus side – if we kill you – we don’t have to put up with all this fuss and noise all the time. On the negative side…mm…Woolsy, what was the negative side, again?”
(Painting by Claude T. Stanfield-Moore.)