Pop Lit Explosion

Rant

THERE HAVE BEEN examples of pop culture rescuing a nation’s morale. In this country, scarcely a month after the John F. Kennedy assassination came the British Invasion spearheaded by the Beatles– an example of escape from trauma offered by ART. Simultaneously, home grown pop music exploded with the “Sound of Young America” emerging from Motown. The joy didn’t last long– but left as legacy the best pop music ever recorded.

AT THE MOMENT American morale is in the toilet. Glum expressions from Debbie Downers everywhere. “Woe is us!” proclaims the intellectual class on Left and Right. As if the quixotic project called the American Dream Machine were over. To quote (name-drop alert)  George Plimpton on the one occasion I met him: “Nonsense!”

If some believe the American experiment is over, with perhaps more perspective from the beaten-down streets of Detroit we see this moment as opportunity for a pop culture explosion.

Iraqi Freedom

WHY NOT pop literature? The last time writers were at the center of pop culture was the 1920’s– ironically, a decade that was a huge influence on the Beatles. The “fun-at-all-costs” attitude of the Fitzgeralds’ Jazz Age morphed into early 60’s fun music that rocked the world.

Change will come from literature only if new writers present stronger attitudes, unbeatable confidence and more exciting art. Along with a dollop of pure fun.
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If we’re dynamic, there exists as antagonist and obstacle the moldy and static– the artistically inbred Manhattan monolith. We’ve been covering at our News blog the publishing Overdogs who run a phony puppet show known as the National Book Awards. Follow our coverage.
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There’s also the ongoing All-Time American Writers Tournament. More to happen there as well, soon. Stay tuned.

K.W.

(Painting: “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire” by Russell Patterson.)

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The Populist Alternative

Announcement

(Featured painting: “Festival” by Daniel Celentano c/o Smithsonian.)

We’re not just an alternative to an embalmed establishment literary scene that’s artistically frozen in time. We’re the alternative to the alternatives. We offer the only possible way to unite antagonists on all sides to revive the literary art. We believe in the need for uniquely American literature– art which helps define and give voice to this land and people. We reject fragmented culture– the constant cultural warfare which those highly placed above the fray seem to want.

We present instead to readers and writers our banner of POP!

POSTCARD Big Pop 11-page-001

A populist ethos is one aspect– not the only aspect– of pop literature. Pop Lit!
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As evidence of our dedication to American lit we’re presenting the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Latest happening there is the #4 Seeds announcement. Upcoming are profiles of J.D. Salinger, Misty Copeland(?), Mary Gaitskill, Ayn Rand, Henry Miller, Saul Bellow-versus-Herman Wouk, and many more of our literature-and-culture’s brightest stars. Plus official choices for #5 Seeds.
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We also believe in giving you news about the literary world. Stories and scandals which no one else in literature today will touch. The newest post at our News blog is “The Lit Scene Now,”  — first part of a revealing analysis of the literary business, examining current players and real motivations. Not to be missed!

Pop lit is alive and well!

1934 Reginald Marsh (American artist, Locomotives, Jersey City, 1934
(Painting: “Locomotive, Jersey City” by Reginald Marsh c/o Smithsonian.)

Storms and Shelters

Pop Lit Fiction

Storms have been in the news of late. As such, they’re the theme of the moment at New Pop Lit.

First, we feature a subtly emotional short story from one of the best story writers in America, Anne Leigh Parrish. The story is “Shelter.” Its underlying motifs are refuge and authenticity.

Cara’s truck bumped up the road, the rain in the headlights so thick it looked like snow. Drake was at the wheel. He insisted on driving. She was no good at it, he said, not on a road like this. Plus, the transmission was going. Hadn’t she said she was going to get it fixed?

We’ve just nominated a previous story of Anne’s “Picture This,” for the Best of the Net 2017 anthology, along with other work. See our nominations at our News blog.

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For other storms, at least stormy personalities, check out the four most recent selections at the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Volatile personalities. Volatile art. Examples of the energy of which American literature can occasionally generate.

We’re out to capture, create, and showcase similar literary energy. Keep following us!

(Painting: “Storm in the Mountain” by Albert Bierstadt.)

A Pop Canon?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

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–

Hemingway and Pynchon?

Announcement

Pynchon and Hemingway? Could two writers be more dissimilar, yet, as slightly cracked and original American authors, so much the same?

PYNCHON APPRECIATED
First, see the latest Appreciation, this one by D. Greenhorn, at the All-Time American Writers Tournament.

HEMINGWAY DAY REVISITED
Second, as today is Ernest Hemingway’s 118th birthday, we invite readers to partake again of last year’s festivities, with discussion of his reputation here, and our “Searching for Hemingway” travelogue here. (An Appreciation of Hem by Samuel Stevens is upcoming next week.)
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We have much new stuff upcoming, including terrific new fiction from Clint Margrave, Wred Fright, Anne Leigh Parrish, and other familiar and unfamiliar names. Plus other surprises.

Until then, enjoy July– when dogs are sleeping, editors are lazy, and everyone should be reading New Pop Lit, the stay-cool literary site.

California Writing

Pop Lit Fiction

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.

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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.
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(Painting: “Herbstlandschaft mit Booten” by Wassily Kandinsky.)

Four American Writers

All-Time American Writers Tournament

#2 Tournament Seeds

Make that Four GREAT American Writers. . . .

With our latest entrants into the big Tournament, discussed here, we have something to displease everyone. We live in hysterical times when everyone across the ideological spectrum is displeased by something.

Reminder:  We’re still one America. There yet exists that magical idea known as American literature; best expression of the American Dream– as we argue in the essay accompanying our announcement.

But:  Another Big Four. What do you think of them? Anyone among the Four to love? Anyone to hate?

there’s no “white” literature or “black” literature, or this division or that one. There’s only American literature.

Turmoil at New Pop Lit?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

SOME turmoil anyway as we experiment with our All-Time American Writers Tournament to see how alive or dead interest in historical American writers is in this crazed nation. Who’ll stand out?

We’ve announced our first two selections. See what you think.

We’ll keep the Tournament chiefly at our Interactive and News  blogs– while we soon get back on track posting current fiction, book reviews, and the like. Stick with us!

(Email tourney suggestions to newpoplit@gmail.com.)

Who’s Good Enough?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

el cid tournament

Who’s good enough to make the tournament? Certain writers are gimmes– but 64 spots, when you start listing writers, isn’t a lot. The New Pop Lit Competition Committee hasn’t decided if there will be a play-in game. Who should we start thinking about?

Sinclair Lewis? Anne Sexton? Pearl Buck? David Mamet? Zora Neale Hurston? Fanny Hurst? Maya Angelou? John “The Mummy” Updike? Charlie Bukowski? Ezra Pound? Carl Sandburg? Gertrude Stein? Sherwood Anderson? Truman Capote? Zane Grey? Herman Wouk? James Jones? James Baldwin? Ray Bradbury? James Cain? James Fenimore Cooper? Harriet Beecher Stowe? Isaac Asimov? Ayn Rand? Mario Puzo? John Berryman? Bernard Malamud? Richard Wright? Ray Carver? Raymond Chandler? Lillian Hellman? Mary McCarthy? Katherine Anne Porter? Any contemporary poets? Any fantasy writers? Let’s have some names!

In the meantime, we’ll start on the easy part– the #1 seeds. Coming next.

(Image from the 1961 classic movie, “El Cid.”)

By Dictate or Argument?

Announcement

SO MUCH of what’s considered literature today is run by dictate, that we hope at some point with the All-Time American Writers Tournament to do things differently.

The recent Granta issue of “Young American Novelists” is an example. Four well-placed judges decided the matter– then word came down from on high. “You WILL accept these selections culled mainly from those given us by the Big 5 conglomerate book companies.”

It’s how the system is run and how it’s always been run. Tops-down in every aspect. The professor tells you, “You WILL appreciate these authors, no matter how stuffy, irrelevant, meaningless, or boring they may be.”

Recent p.c. changes in the university have scarcely altered this– only the names mandated to be appreciated have changed.

The student, like the hapless consumer of Granta, has no say. The decision runs always, always one way.

castro

As many have noted, the situation, in academia and the greater intellectual community, has become ever more totalitarian. There is one accepted ideology. One acceptable set of ideas. One way of thinking.

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We’ll be setting up our brackets for the Tournament with a new mix, according to our best judgment and the standards we’ve outlined– but we don’t pretend to have all the answers. We’d like to receive throughout the course of the Tournament suggestions and arguments about which writers should be included– from writers, general readers, and elite critics alike. If “literature” is to be a living thing and not just an authoritarian dictate, names and ideas should come from everybody.

The All-Time American Writers Tournament will be at our Interactive blog, previously used for fun stuff and pop poetry. (Which we’ll still sneak in on occasion.) Here’s format information. Here’s other tourney info.

We’re at newpoplit AT gmail.com.

#1 seeds are upcoming. . . .