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.)
#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.
THE FUTURE is in fiction and poetry written with clarity and conciseness. Short and to the point. Read quickly but meaningfully on an app.
Toward that end, we present a short short by our own Kathleen M. Crane, “Aloha from Detroit Revisited.” Set in Detroit’s punk rock scene near the end of the millennium, it’s a replay of an earlier tale by K.M.C., “Aloha from Detroit”– the title work in her e-book short story collection. “Revisited” presents a different perspective on the same events. Providing a different angle. A more rounded look.
We’re based in Detroit, where we hear and read much about how the auto companies– not known for being cutting edge– have to adapt to the technologies of the 21st Century. How moreso literature!– whose Manhattan mandarins operate with the mindset of the 19th.
As lit moves onto new platforms like smart phones and e-books, the style of writing itself has to adapt and change. Slow-paced thoughts won’t work. Word-clotted writing is dead– whether from James Joyce or Joyce C. Oates; Jon Franzen or the acolytes of David Foster Wallace. In ten years the heavily-lauded writers of the present will be obsolete.
They already are. Writing is changing, via flash fiction and pop poetry. We’re at the forefront of that change.
He wondered who was dealing Rick, after his warnings. He shrugged. Rick was an adult. He glanced at Rick, pale and slumped under his black mohawk at the end of the bar. Sure, an adult.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.)
WE PRESENT not just pop lit, but sometimes straight pop, on our path toward true “fusion” fiction. No less a personage than Jonathan Franzen has claimed to have a similar goal– except that in his ultra-long novels there’s less entertainment value than in a single story by Alan Swyer– and less than one-tenth the heart.
Doubt it? Read Alan’s new tale “Country Sweetheart” to see what the pop lit revolution is about.
Writers are reinventing the short story art! We’ve been covering this in our ongoing series, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” In conjunction with running Alan’s story we present Part IV of the series at our News blog. This section is devoted to– what else?– pop writers.
Grab the New!
“When the world gets weird, instead of doing a Dusty Springfield –”
“‘Wishing And Hoping’ that things’ll change, you’ve got to do something so that you’re who’s changing.”
“That what you do?”
“It’s what I’m doing.”
AT ITS BEST flash fiction gives you real life in short bursts. Could one say the effect, from an artistic standpoint, is cubist? Sample two new flash pieces by Andrew Sacks to see. One story’s about a marriage. The other, about a job interview. Fast-but-sharp reading.
Miles had always tried to compensate by a self-confidence bordering on bluster. Certainly not a bully, he did in fact seem to intimidate many people, or at least put them on their heels a bit, by his overriding assertiveness and swagger. His belief in himself was absolute. . . .
We’ve also tweaked our “Young Writers” essay, including the fourth profile, of Jess Mize. Are these four writers the future of literature? Do they point a way forward for the literary art– bringing new imagination, charisma, and talent? Read the essay. We’ll be spotlighting other young writers in coming months.
(Painting by Juan Gris.)
To demonstrate our ongoing commitment to pop fiction we present as feature a new Norbert Kovacs story, “The Fight.” American literature became thoroughly American when it became thoroughly vigorous– expressing the tough lives and harsh environment of the American landscape. Back in the days when American lit, via writers like Jack London and Rex Beach, was thoroughly populist– not simply a plaything for generously-educated elitists in Brooklyn wine bistros or Manhattan drawing rooms.
We believe you’ll find the Kovacs story a far cry from that refined lifestyle! (Incidentally, when we continue our Overview of new literature, we’ll address the “Pop” side of the pop lit equation– this story a preview.)
Bruises colored his chest like dark blue medallions. His shoulder received a scarlet gash from a punch that had torn him. Mort strained to stand up under McCurdley’s new blows. He had to tell himself to fight. Deliver, he thought. Hit. He lunged and swung.
(Painting by Fyodor Bronnikov.)
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.
(Also read our News blog notice on Calder’s just-released novel.)
Art by Sonia Delaunay.
We make the point again and again. In this noisy age literature in all its forms has to change. To become far more exciting– within the culture; to the general populace.
In Part III of our overview, “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age,” we’ve profiled young writers who bring new perspectives to fiction. Who have the talent to reinvent the art. Few fit this designation better than Jess Mize, who’s been making noise across a variety of upstart lit sites. We have an excerpt from Jess’s novel-in-progress. Fittingly, the story is about reinvention.THEN stay tuned for a new profile of Jess and her writing, due in a few days.
At New Pop Lit, the future is NOW.
The young boy learned in one fell swoop of his powers and of the neurotic, mysterious trance of performance art. It was like seeing lightning strike a natural object right in front of your eyes, the electrical force penetrating your mind and becoming a live, vibrating current in the conduit of your brain waves.
(Art by Jean Metzinger.)
At New Pop Lit we’re on a mad search for future writing styles– and for new styles for writers themselves. We foresee a changed literary landscape where writers’ personas are inseparable from their work. Once, writers were public figures. They deserve to be so again.
Which brings us to Lauren N. Jackson, third of our “Young Writers,” part of an long examination of literature today which we’re calling “Hyper-Talents of the New Literary Age.” The four examples we’re using are each extremely talented, albeit in markedly different ways.
Are there commonalities between the four of them? Yes!
First, their writing styles are striking and economical. A Pop Lit requirement.
Second, all of the four convey a sense of unease, even bewilderment, at the world before them.
This is the case with Lauren N. Jackson’s entry in our series, “The Spore Guild.”
Does art equal madness, and madness art? Read her tale and decide for yourself.
(THEN read commentary on Lauren and her writing, as we add to our “Hyper-Talents” essay. Be sure to scroll down.)
Now the question I’ve finally allowed on my lips is – what’s out there? What haunts us, hunts us, destroys us? How much longer do we have? Will I go truly mad? What if I already am? Perhaps my whole reality has shifted in my head and I only think I’m living my true life.
(Art: “The Revolt” by Luigi Russolo.)