Pushcart Nominations 2020

THIS YEAR’S NEW POP LIT PUSHCART NOMINATIONS

AS we’ve stated in past years, New Pop Lit‘s nomination process for the Pushcart Prize is to a certain extent arbitrary. We had a lot of excellent work to choose from, would’ve loved to select all of it. Unfortunately that wasn’t possible.

The rationale for the choices we made is this:

Our knowledge that nominations have to be made by snail mail, and the Pushcart editors are flooded with submissions. Hundreds of envelopes. Thousands of nominations. The first objective, in trying to have one of our nominations selected to be an actual prize winner, is getting the editors to read what we enclose. The bias then isn’t toward stuffing the envelope we mail with reams of paper, but toward shorter work.

Our other objectives were these:

1.) To enclose a variety of writing styles. We’ve done that.

2.) To make sure the nominations are well-written, and different enough from the norm to (possibly) gain attention.

3.) Lastly, to make sure the nominations are attractively presented.

ALSO, we decided to split our six choices equally between on-line work, and writing which appeared in our first two print zeens.

The chief criterion of course is excellence, well-displayed in these selections.

OUR NOMINATIONS

Poetry: 

An excerpt from “The Spectre of the Rose”: by Frank D. Walsh.
(Published in New Pop Lit’s
Extreme Zeen in May, 2020.)

Prose: 

”The Sacred Whore.” Fiction by Rachel Haywire.
(Published in New Pop Lit’s Extreme Zeen in May, 2020.)

-”Vyvanse.” A novel excerpt by Brian Eckert.
(Published in New Pop Lit’s ZEENITH in July, 2020.)

”Ben Lerner’s Topeka School Failure.” A book review by G. D. Dess.

”The Look.” Fiction by Aaron H. Aceves.

”On the Origin of an Event.” Fiction by Oliver Bennett.

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Thanks much to these exceptional writers and to all the writers we’ve published and will publish this crazy year!

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Reading Challenge!

OFF-THE-CUFF REVIEWERS NEEDED

We have a simple proposition to make. We invite readers far and wide to peruse two recently published short stories.

ONE is by much-lauded short story writer George Saunders, published in the November 9th issue (11-2 online) of the prestigious magazine The New Yorker, long considered the leading venue for short fiction in the United States.

The story: “Ghoul.”

THE OTHER, published by us November 6th, is by another short story writer, Nick Gallup. Of less renown but– in our modest opinion– of no less ability than the widely-honored Mr. Saunders.

The story: “Just Another Silly Love Song.”

OUR PROPOSITION:

WE INVITE any reader–any writer– to craft an honest comparison between the two stories– an evaluation, a criticism, a two-pronged review– answering the questions: Which story is better? Which presents the better reading experience? Which is better crafted and constructed? How well are the portrayals of the characters? How impactful is each story’s overall effect?

WE WILL publish any such review, submitted by anyone– twenty-five words to 500– as long as said essay reaches a minimum level of sense and coherence. We’ll edit/correct only for obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes. We won’t publish submissions we regard as obscene, or not in the spirit of the offer– but will give the writer of such submission notice, along with the opportunity to change what has been submitted.

THIS OFFER is open through the rest of the month of November, 2020.

The essays will be posted at this blog.

Are you up to it?

Please send your critiques to: newpoplit@gmail.com.

Thanks!

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Zeenith Is Coming!

–an experiment in new publishing–

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BE READY! July 21st we introduce a new form of literary publication unlike anything seen. (Except our own Extreme Zeen.) Faster, sharper, sleeker– with lines, looks, and colors throughout intended to dazzle the eye. Meant to kick off a new era in art, presentation, and writing. Includes eight terrific writers who create in a variety of styles. Inspired by classic print zines but of higher aspirations and palpable quality. A fusion of the best of zine and literary journal, throwing out everything stale and unnecessary. We call this historic new creation– 

ZEENITH!

-Be prepared to purchase your copy of ZEENITH at our POP SHOP beginning 9 a.m. TUESDAY.-

In so doing you will enter a new world of art and amazement.

ZEENITHZEENITHZEENITHZEENITHZEENITHZEENITHZEENITH. . . .

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Return to Print?

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THE INTERNET is in turmoil. Social media is turning hostile. Voices are being bounced be they on the left or the right. Warning signals sound like clanging bells saying, “Get off. Get out!”

In other words, it may be time to return to analog, to reality, tangibility; to something to touch with the hand like a real object and own. To PRINT.

–I note anyway that former zine publisher of Red Roach Press and other outsider projects “Joe Smith” has gone underground is producing samizdat once again in the form of a well-written zine called Alternative Incite. A zine title if ever there was one. A copy mysteriously appeared in our mailbox– yes we still have one– one afternoon– first real mail we’d received in an age amid the usual novel-sized paper blasts full of A & W and Burger King coupons. We were happy to receive it. Real mail! My favorite read in it was the Thoughts Provoked section giving opinions about articles in The New Yorker, The Economist, and Philosophy Now, while KMC (NPL Contributing Editor) most liked the essay about walking. There are also articles about “The Matrix,” about Henry Miller, about “The New Normal,” and other topics. Hearty reading.–

(Reading the fine print I discovered this note in the zine: “The price per issue is $3 and PayPal is accepted (send to manualpubs@yahoo.com).” There’s also a website: https://butter-lamb.com/

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But what of us? We at NPL HQ? In our frantic work at the underground (literally) New Pop Lit Literary Research Lab, have we produced anything resembling a print journal?

YES!

Though we call it not a zine, but a ZEEN. So named because we take an approach different from that of most zine writers– or lit mag editors, for that matter. For us, presentation is as important as the writing. We seek to make it easy to get to the words– to make it impossible not to.

Go to our online Pop Shop to see what we’re up to.

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-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS

Extreme Zeen Debut

THE FUTURE IS HERE

EZ in plastic
(Pictured: Copy of Extreme Zeen in safety plastic.)

YES, it’s here. The world’s first (?) Technicolor literary journal. Includes colorful visuals. Made of high-quality paper. Merely an early sign of the many wonderful products on our drawing board.

HOW does one interest the world in books and literature?

By presenting a more exciting experience. Extreme Zeen is about having that experience.

Are you ready for it? Then head to our online Pop Shop and purchase a copy. Better yet, purchase TWO copies and give one to a friend or relative.

two copies EZ - Edited

The world is changing. So is literature.

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Adrienne Miller and the Big Brain Boys Club

DISAPPEARING FICTION AND WHY

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THE LATEST BOOK WORLD NEWS is a memoir by former Esquire magazine Literary Editor Adrienne Miller entitled In the Land of Men. In it Miller details her problems handling giant male egos during her years in the Manhattan magazine realm– most notably that of David Foster Wallace. The book is discussed in various publications, including in an essay, “Infinite Jerk” by Laura Marsh at the New Republic.

MOST INTERESTING to this commentator are the assumptions made by Ms. Marsh about the decline of interest in fiction, at Esquire and throughout the clubby New York City world:

Miller declares her faith in “vibrant, necessary fiction. . .”

. . .the decline of the publishing industry and the shrinking demand for literary fiction.

• . . .her industry is dying and that her publication is less and less interested in acquiring fiction also puts limits on her career. When she starts at Esquire, the magazine is publishing 10 short stories a year; by the time she leaves, she can barely get anything into print, and her bosses kill a Wallace short story that she has labored on for months. All this comes after she wins an ASME award for fiction.

Never once does Laura Marsh question why fiction was disappearing at Esquire. That maybe the award-winning stories Miller was accepting were failing to engage the public. That perhaps, “literary” fiction of the prestigious self-involved style written by David Foster Wallace and other Big Ego Members of the Club was obsolete by the time Adrienne Miller came along. (And more obsolete now.) That to Miller and her friends, impressive fiction was more important than an exciting story a typical Esquire buyer might actually read.

(During the 2000’s, while Adrienne Miller plied her trade, a change-oriented writers group named the Underground Literary Alliance, whose mission was to promote more authentic and relatable writing– as well as to expose corruption in the established literary realm– referred to hyped authors such as Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers, George Saunders, and others of that type as “The Big Brain Boys Club.” No one listened to the group. Even for an Adrienne Miller it was more important to “go along to get along.” Question nothing.)

ARTISTIC CHANGE

In any field– including literature– change is inevitable. The more it’s delayed, the more drastic that change is going to be. One day the Manhattan literary crowd will glance over the high walls of their crumbling castle to see change approaching– and still won’t understand what’s happening.

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-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS

 

Diversity Dilemmas?

PROBLEMS IN PUBLISHING DEPARTMENT

b and n covers

THE BIG NEWS in the publishing world this week is the cancellation (in both meanings of the term) of Barnes & Noble’s “Diverse Editions” series– someone’s ill-advised marketing strategy for Black History Month, which consisted of putting black faces on the covers of classic novels like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Critics argue that instead of such superficial gestures, big-time publishers should be signing more authors of color– to celebrate actual literary diversity. (A recent Lee and Low survey indicates that 79% of those who work in the publishing and book review industries are white. The same survey states that 78% of those in the field are women, but no one seems too concerned about that!)

Yes, by all means the Big Five publishing world based in New York City needs more diversity. There’s one super-huge problem in obtaining it– the over-reliance by these publishers on staffers with an Ivy League pedigree. (With a smattering of Stanford grads and upper-class Brits thrown in.)

The universities publishers recruit from sit at the top level of the most hierarchical and regressive industry in America: higher education.

What, you say? How could this be possible?

Universities are designed to be exclusionary. That’s, er, their whole point– to create artificial monopolies in field after field, industry after industry. Most pronounced the higher the prestige– and endowment– of the particular institution. A guild mentality, where if you’re a Member of the Club you get all the benefits. If not, tough luck. Gotta have that certificate, folks. Credentialism. “Meritocracy”– where as we’ve seen with recent scandals, the wealthy and powerful have better access to obtain the benefits for their ostensible merits. 

THIS IS MOST PRONOUNCED with Ivy League schools. Especially with Harvard and Yale. We recently went through a stretch where every U.S. President from 1988 up to 2016 was a graduate of either Harvard or Yale. Or both.

Is that what democracy looks like?

It might be that not until the “Big Five” lose their monopolistic position in the publishing world will true diversity arrive regarding the books that are published and promoted in America right now.

(Which is one reason we exist as a literary project.)

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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

 

The Social Justice Merry-Go-Round

OR, VIRTUE-SIGNALING MUSICAL CHAIRS

am dirt cummins

Pity the poor book conglomerates! New York City’s “Big Five.” They want to do the right thing, to be on the side of progress, social justice and all that, but they keep making missteps. Could it be the giant institutions and their Ivy-educated staffs are too removed from these issues? Too out of touch?

The latest mistake being the seven-figure-advanced publication of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Intended as a takedown of the horrors of the border crisis, instead the book has caused a furor among LatinX writers, who see the novel as exploitation of the issue by a person who shouldn’t be commenting. (Ms. Cummins looks Latina, but apparently isn’t.)

cummins 

Another Rachel Dolezal? Elizabeth Warren? Or not?

I’m not going to comment on the book, its author and the controversy further, other than to say that perhaps the problem is with the huge conglomerates themselves. That the solution is to encourage more independent publishers, smaller and closer to the ground, instead of a one-size-fits-all bureaucracy that will always get things wrong– in the flurry of virtue signaling-run-amok, with so many ambitious writers out there, a bureaucracy that will continually behave incorrectly or be scammed, despite or because of their good intentions.

(And no, the answer is not to nationalize the book business. Sorry, Marxists. Replacing five too-large cronyistic-and-insular monoliths with one even larger monolith solves nothing.)

The best answer, as with so much else in this contentious country, is DIY. More access. More options.

(Note: American Dirt was published by Flat Iron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Corp. Flat Iron’s publisher Amy Einhorn, who gave the seven-figure advance, is a graduate of Stanford, not an Ivy League college.)

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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

Romance Writers Catfight!

TURMOIL IN A RENOWNED WRITERS ORGANIZATION

catfight 3

What’s the biggest story in the book world right now?

Without question, it’s controversy within the 10,000-member Romance Writers of America organization.

The controversy was kicked off when Chinese-American author Courtney Milan was sanctioned by the RWA Board of Directors– apparently for expressing an opinion about depictions, in another author’s work, which Milan perceived as racist.

THERE SEEM, to this commentator, to have been overreactions all over the place. First, the egregious actions by the board. Then, the firestorm blowback from Milan and her supporters. More contentious than the dispute between the U.S. and Iran, Trump and Khamanei?

catfight 2

In many ways, yes, because there was no attempt to pullback, much less compromise. Instead, accusations from both sides. From Courtney and Company, cries of racism and calls for “radical inclusion.” From their foes, those they derogatorily call NWL’s (Nice White Ladies), charges of censorship and cancel culture.

The result: Yesterday, the resignation of RWA president Damon Suede. (Could that possibly be his real name?) With the existing level of dissension and hurt feelings, there appears no way this matter will be resolved smoothly.

(The latest question: Whether Damon Suede even properly qualified to be RWA president in the first place. He appears to have fudged the eligibility requirements.)

The biggest irony? That the dispute takes place among a group of authors devoted to, of all things, romance. Have they forgotten the adage, “Make love, not war”?

Just asking!

(Comments about this matter from any and all parties are welcomed.)

catfight 1

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-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS

Trump versus Khamenei Steel Cage Match!

FIGHT OF THE DECADE!

New Pop Lit Presents Trump vs Khameni

AS A WAY to avoid war between the United States and Iran, we at NEW POP LIT hereby offer to stage and promote a Steel Cage Match between the leaders of the respective nations, Donald J. Trump and Ayatollah Khamenei, at a place and date to be announced.

It will, of course, be Pay Per View. We expect the event to break all previous PPV records. Or: It will be YUGE!!

(We ask the two parties to contact us asap to quickly arrange this great match! Thanks. NewPopLitATgmailDOTcom.)

steel cage

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