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.

****

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.)

Advertisements

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.)
****

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.

*******
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.
****
(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.

*******

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.

****

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. . . .

****

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!