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. . . .

House Pets of Literature

News

“House pets” may be too strong a term to refer to the twenty-one American novelists featured in Granta magazine’s new issue. BUT, with one potential exception, none of the twenty-one is out to shock the literary establishment with contrary viewpoints– or with new ways of looking at the literary art. That’s left for upstart outfits like ourselves.

The London/New York literary establishments have marshaled their resources to stress the importance of this Granta issue. In the U.S., Slate, The Millions, The Center for Fiction, Library Journal, L.A. Times, Lit Hug; Lucas Wittmann, Laura Miller, Nick Moran, Barbara Hoffert, Michael Schaub, Carolyn Kellogg, Emily Temple; all the usual critical advocates– to the prestigious Guardian newspaper in the U.K. WE alone present the other side of things.

The key in this world is seeing issues and subjects three-dimensionally. One should never accept without question a flat presentation. What the mandarins of culture wish you to see. You might miss what’s really happening.

And so, at our News blog, our perspective on the Granta issue. Worth a look.

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Also, please consider your candidates for the All-Time American Writers Tournament. Who’s your choice? If you have one, or several, email us with a name or names, reasons, or rationalizations. We’re at newpoplit AT gmail.com.

Thanks!

(Cat photo c/o Jamie Lockhart.)

Blow Up the Canon!?

Controversy

WHEN ONE CONSIDERS a project like our proposed “All-Time American Writers Tournament,” one bumps up against notions of the Canon. That collection of writers and literary works designated by the academy as worthy of preservation and study.

YET the world has changed so drastically the realization hits that for all its impact on society, there is no Canon. Or: no one cares. For the general public, a Neil Gaiman or Stephenie Meyer has more importance than a score of canonical writers. Names like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Pearl Buck barely register. Inside the classroom it’s hardly better, according to a college professor we know. The chief struggle is to keep students off their smartphones and have them read the assignments. Compared to the overwhelming noise of media found on phones, the internet, and television, of what impact is an assigned poem, play, or novel?

Professors themselves aren’t the respected figures they once were. A quaint person in a classroom– artifact from another era. Quickly forgotten.

So low is the standing of “Literature” in the culture that we ask ourselves, “Why bother?”

We’ll likely make the attempt regardless. An impossible task– to have readers become interested in dusty figures of history at a time when for most of the population there is no past, only NOW. A task but also a challenge. A test to see if the best writers, as personalities and talents, can be made interesting. Even provocative.

The Canon? Is there a Canon? Should writers today blow up all notion of a Canon? Or reinvent the Canon?

These are questions our tournament will address. . . .

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Meanwhile take a look at our new book review blog with sample review. We have several reviews of our favorite authors to put up– but are also looking for reviews, commentary, or gossip by others, short and to the point. Make it new. Make it exciting. Make it pop!

 

March Literary Madness?

Announcement

AMERICA is captivated by the ongoing NCAA basketball tournament. Office pools choosing winners and losers have made their picks. Tremendous interest in the sport thereby generated.

What if there were a writers tournament?

And so, we’ll soon begin at this site the semi-fictional “All-Time American Writers Tournament,” pitting novelists against playwrights against poets to decide WHO is the best of them all.

Would such a tournament work?

Only if others contribute– in aligning the brackets and judging the contests.

Hemingway against Updike? Mary McCarthy versus Joyce Carol Oates? It could be competitive and fun.

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The question arises: IS there such thing as American literature?

The nation was far into its history before its literature was taken seriously by the rest of the world– only when it became the true voice of the land and the people; ALL the American people. It’d be crazy to throw that away.

Our literature has been expressed through a diverse collection of writers who are uniquely American. Melville to Millay. Emerson to Ellison. Beecher Stowe to Maya Angelou.

Stay tuned.

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(We’ll also be getting back to our other ongoing feature, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” very soon.)

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(Artwork by Jacques-Louis David.)

 

Pop Lit Style

Pop Lit Fiction

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.

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(Also read our News blog notice on Calder’s just-released novel.)

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Art by Sonia Delaunay.

 

Portraits: Lit Overview Part II

Feature

WHY the photo of the Tesla Motors vehicle which has been breaking speed records? Because THAT’S what we at New Pop Lit are about. We started this project to reinvent the literary art. To find or produce literary products faster, cleaner, more efficient and more exciting than the norm.

We believe the literary art has to change and will change. We see contemporary American literature trapped in a “salon” mentality– centered on one east coast island, within five monster conglomerates housed in overpriced skyscrapers, publishing only strictly correct and approved writers.

Things already are changing! 2017 marks the existence of scores of upstart literary outfits such as ours– and many thousands of DIY authors who don’t apply the “rules” because they never heard of the rules. Yes, much of the work is mediocre or worse– but at the same time, room is created for the new. For the arrival of the VanGogh-Gaugin self-motivated genius who’ll go so far outside the bounds, art will be overturned. A writer who’ll break all artistic speed records– or maybe, go into untrod areas in the creation of meaning and emotion.

This has begun to happen, in small ways. The purpose of our series, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” is to showcase writers who’ve pushed right up to the bounds of literary creation, and in so doing, point the way to truly revamped and renewed stories and poems.

Among the writers we discuss is Anne Leigh Parrish, who’s appeared here before. We’re privileged to present her latest story, “Picture This.” Clarity? Simplicity? Emotion? Anne Leigh touches the right chords.

We discuss Ms. Parrish and those right artistic chords at our News blog in Part II of our Overview. Enter the literary future. Read both story and overview now.

He’d grown up with three brothers and two sisters, a house full of noise and misery, hatred and resentment, never able to have his own space. That’s why he became an artist—the lure of escape.

 

Storytellers

Feature

NEW LITERARY TALENTS PART I

Today we start an ambitious series examining a new wave of talented writers. Our plan is to combine literary criticism, reviews, and new fiction for a multi-faceted look at American literature NOW; utilizing as many aspects of the New Pop Lit website as possible.

First up: The opening installment of a far-reaching overview, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.”

AT THE SAME TIME we present for readers a new short story, “Yacht Party,” from Scott Cannon, one of two narrative writers profiled in our essay, along with Tom Ray.

yacht-1

Does Scott’s story support the words expressed in the essay? You decide!

The scene froze at its climax; a spotlight haloed the head of the actor playing Lucas on the screen, then swept to the back of the room to light up the incandescent entrance of The Man himself, flanked by two beautiful women and followed by a small cadre of security. The thunder of the ovation in the packed ballroom as he ascended to the podium still rang in Lucas’ ears.

 

Elusive Instinct

Pop Lit Fiction

TODAY we present a short but striking tale by brilliant new talent Ana Prundaru, whose poems, stories, and art have begun appearing across the globe. Which causes us to facetiously ask: Who is Ana Prundaru? Is this a cover name for an entire team of writers and artists able to produce, on whim, work notable for its sense of immediacy; of now? It’s the sense captured, we feel, in  “Elusive Instinct.” Read it and find out!

We danced through the fluorescence, edging somewhere between snaking seductively toward the bartender and giving each other crap for almost falling over. All this time I could feel his eyes on me. The tall guy who had interrupted me seemed to follow my every move and there was heaviness in the room. . . .

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Speaking of new talents, in one week we begin an ambitious series focused on the sudden rise in our post-literate age of individuals whose work screams, “Not yet! Writing still matters! Literature has not yet lost its importance.”

We’re here to announce that importance. The series is tentatively, ambitiously, hyperbolically titled “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” It’ll start at sixty miles-per-hour then really kick into gear as we present what’s happening beneath the narrowed gaze of establishment gatekeepers. Stay tuned.