How to Beat Amazon

OUR STRATEGY AGAINST MONOPOLY

c/o Jeff Spicer Getty Images

On-line seller Amazon has a current market value of $1.59 trillion and climbing. It’s the largest e-commerce company in the world and no one else is close. At the beginning of 2020 Amazon had over 30,000 delivery trucks and has put in an order with electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian for 100,000 more. Amazon currently has 175 enormous fulfillment centers in operation– 150 million square feet of space. If present trends continue, these numbers will increase. Quickly.

A CURRENT-DAY OCTOPUS

The Octopus is a 1901 novel by Frank Norris describing a railroad monopoly which was ruthlessly putting anyone who stood in its way of expansion and growing profits out of business. Sound familiar? In the novel (based upon actual events) a group of ranchers– self-employed businessmen– are utterly destroyed by the unfeeling monolith.

The good news is that 1901 was a sort of peak for the railroad monsters. A fledgling technology created and pushed by upstart entrepreneurs soon enough displaced the older technology with a more flexible alternative: the automobile.

Which means that even Amazon can be competed with– but it will take new ideas. A variety of them. We’ve come up with some of our own.

HOW THE MONSTER OPERATES

Amazon achieved its monopoly status, beginning with books, based on two basic ideas.

1.) Offer more choices than anyone else– ultimately, to offer every book ever published.

2.) Offer the products at a lower price than anyone else. Lower than anyone could possibly match.

The result has been a boon for the compulsive reader, but damaging to publishers– and devastating to writers.

WHY?

Because in these conditions it’s all but impossible for any new writer to stand out. For any single book to stand out.

At Barnes & Noble, the author was one out of 50,000. On Amazon, he’s one of millions.

Contrast this with a cultural entity at the beginning of its cycle. In the early days of hip-hop music in the late 70’s, how many prominent hip-hop recording artists were there? A handful?

Or take the rock n’ roll explosion in 1956. Again, fueled by a mere handful of stars who could create acceptable versions of the hybrid genre: Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Elvis Presley– few others.

When the Beatles arrived in America in February 1964, they were the only British rock act in the vicinity, and stood out. Five years later, after every possible put-together group of mop-top Brits who could hold a guitar– in tune or not– had entered these shores, the value was not so much. It makes a huge difference if you’re one of one, or one of five– or one of 500,000.

In MFA programs across the U.S.A., students learn to craft fiction or poetry as well as– and indistinguishable from– that of ten thousand others. What, then, is the point?

THE GREAT LEVELLER

For books, Amazon has been like McDonald’s with hamburgers: The Great Leveller. Small-d democratic. Everyone can afford to eat hamburgers– and everyone now can afford to read any book. We’re all the same. In the process– with the commodification of the product– that product has been cheapened. Anyone now can read books but few are reading them. Books have lost their importance, their uniqueness, their value. They’re part of Amazon’s discount bin, rejects nobody wants.

DOING THE OPPOSITE

If Amazon’s strategy was to flood the market with books at rock-bottom prices, the antidote is to do the opposite, with a proviso.

Doing the opposite means offering a small number of authors, at a limited number of outlets. The proviso is the authors will need to have hyper-appealing personas– able to be “stars”– and the writing as well as the presentation will need to be notably different from anything else on offer. Attention-getting. The writing will need to be in a new style and genre, while the literary vehicles– books, if you will– will need to look like something other than a book. The literary upstart will need to offer–

THE SHOCK OF THE NEW

Which is why we put so much emphasis on innovation. Innovation of the art and the vehicle of the art.

A difficult task, with enormous potential payoff.

Our plan stands upon three basic ideas.

1.) Offer authentic artistic experience.

2.) Rebound away from the cheap.

3.) Make our products unique.

<<<<>>>>

In his quest to corner the market on books, Jeff Bezos cheapened the contents of those volumes: literature. Instead of a valued expression of the highest sentiments and ideals of mankind, literature became a bargain basement commodity, sold at discounts or given away. A race to the bottom. Our mission is to restore value to the literary art. To accomplish that will mean revamping the art, the way it’s presented, packaged, and marketed. All will need to be opposite to Amazon’s glorified bargain-basement discount shop.

The printed analog products– which we call zeens– we’ve created so far, three in number, are templates for those to follow. In the three zeens we express a variety of artistic ideas, attempt numerous effects, some partially successful, others more so. What we’re learning with our artistic and literary experiments will pay dividends in the future– on the road toward creating truly amazing literary journals.

To see those experiments, click on our POP SHOP. You may choose to order one or more of them– then open them when they arrive and fully see what we’re about.

<<<<<<<>>>>>>>

Nick Gallup versus George Saunders: Round Four

THE NEW POP LIT READING CHALLENGE CONTINUES

COMPARISONS OF TWO RECENT AMERICAN SHORT STORIES

A summary of rounds one through three:

Round One judging was done by William Rushing.

Round Two judging was done by Michael Maiello.

Round Three judging was done by Tom Ray.

This round– Round Four– is scored by Michael Kealan Moore.

Information on the Reading Challenge is here.

The Big Question: What do you think?

<<<<<<>>>>>>

“Two households, both alike in dignity.”

by Michael Kealan Moore

Gallup begins with thoughts and tones set by textual allusions and song lyrics—we are reminded of TV scripts, where, at times, writers rely heavily on the mood set by music; Netflix’s Pose for example. Jones’ Some Came Running brings a struggling writer and we lead into the mouth of “Just Another Silly Love Song” (JASLS) and enjoy the story of a slow to marry, air-cowboy. To say this is a “better reading experience” lays in the easily digested events, where the reader can immerse the self in the action and plot. The craft and construction is of professional stock as we go through the phases of the protagonist’s moves across a chessboard towards love and marriage. Joseph Campbell’s work comes to mind in both construction and characterization; Brown as the Mentor (also noted as “My mentor, General Brown”), the first date as “all is lost/dark night of the soul” etc. Further into the characters, they could be in any successful Film/TV romcom: blue-collar workers lookin’ for a better life, and love. The impact of JASLS shows us that it is not another silly love story but one with grace, action, adventure, grit, and American truth.

Ghoul” is a beast of a narrative which injects us into Postmodern tropes. This text takes time to simmer and cook in the mind, which adds to its genius—readers left to hack away stone to discover the diamonds underneath. We are reminded of Jean Baudrillard’s realms of the hyperreal in Saunders’ words and world, the characters working in a cursed Disneyland of sorts; this may well be the 13th floor of hell—but it is not, it is a possible America where one cannot speak the truth at times, otherwise they are kicked to death by their friends and lovers. We can summarize in Baudrillard’s words that this is a “desert of the real itself”. Is this a “better reading experience”? I will say it is a difficult read where the wheels of cognition are forced into motion, but ultimately we reread to fully comprehend. The craft involved in this text is above normal and within its construction we the readers are brought information through dialogue, notes/letters, body language, and action itself; where all scraps make the greater absurd whole. On the characters, I found them well crafted in that they are submerged in their own phenomenological experience of the hell they exist in—we are of course kicked back to Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Man in The High Castle, and Brave New World; particularly the human “savages” living out of reach. On the first reading the impact is entirely contrary to a second reading, the first leaving us somewhat confused—the second impact is sobering.

Both Ghoul and JASLS outperform each other in their respective styles; we can imagine fans of Postmodernism swooning over George Saunders while one who appreciates contemporary American writing will find joy in Nick Gallup’s words.

<<<<>>>>

Michael Kealan Moore holds a BA in Writing, English & Classics, an MA in Writing, and a number of qualifications in Psychoanalysis. He has worked in AI, Film/TV and Publishing for a number of years.

Ghoul versus Gallup: Round Three

ANOTHER ENTRY IN OUR READING CHALLENGE–

Not George Saunders. Different George. Same beard.

— ATTEMPTING TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: “WHICH STORY IS BETTER?”

We’ve been comparing two short stories. The first, “Ghoul,” is by renowned story writer George Saunders, author of the Booker Prize-winning novel Lincoln in The Bardo. (Bardo, not Beardo.) The second, “Just Another Silly Love Song,” was published by us and is by lesser known fictionist Nick Gallup.

Round One analysis of the story was done by William Rushing.

Round Two analysis was done by Michael Maiello.

Information on the Reading Challenge is here.

Our newest review of the two stories is by Tom Ray

<<<<>>>>

A REVIEW

by Tom Ray

“Just Another Silly Love Song” tells the story of the relationship between two individuals, Tyler and Roxie. “Ghoul” tells the story of a world divorced from our own reality, with the relationship between Brian and Amy being just one illustration of the relationship between individuals and society as a whole.

The characters in “Love Song” are realistic. We don’t know if Tyler loved his mother or if Roxie has daddy issues. However, thanks to narrator Tyler’s self-aware reflections as a mature man looking back, we know he was a typical late 20th-century man, obsessed with sex, concerned with proving his masculinity, yet not intimidated by a strong, intelligent woman like Roxie. As a woman of that era, Roxie is not afraid to show her independence, and will not define herself in terms of a male partner. On the other hand, she is attracted to a strong man who proves himself, as Tyler does, to be more than a macho stereotype.

The protagonist in “Ghoul” is also a young man. His reactions to events are how I imagine a young man in such a bizarre world would react, fearful of the consequences of breaking the authoritarian rules. All of the other characters, though, have no depth. They are cartoon characters put there to show how this crazy regime impacts Brian.

A lot of the humor in “Love Song” is self-deprecating, as the narrator recognizes his own foibles as a typical young man who got his life tips from reading Playboy. In “Ghoul” the narrator has no sense of humor, with unintended humor emerging in descriptions of the denizens of the underworld behaving like people working dull jobs in the real world.

Saunders is definitely the master in crafting this story. When Gallup’s story was first published in New Pop Lit I commented that he has a way of drawing the reader in. It was easy to draw me in like that, though, because the characters are realistic.

It was tougher for Saunders. I stuck with the tedious narrator, trying to figure out what the setting was. It seemed like a theme park, but as I read further it became obvious this was more sinister than that.

By the end of “Love Song” I was satisfied. The story is a little more sentimental than I usually care for, but it is light-hearted fun with wit. Toward the end of “Ghoul” I was able to say, “Oh, yeah, this is a metaphor; or is it an allegory, or a simile, or some other such thing that I stopped worrying about half a century ago in college English lit classes? Is it satire on life in the corporate world, or on religion? Who cares?” The corporate world sucks, we all know that, religion is bullshit, we’ve all heard that. “Ghoul” doesn’t say anything new on those subjects in an interesting way, and the tedium I felt in the first few pages returned in the last few. Not my cup of oolong.

<<<<>>>>

Tom Ray is himself an accomplished, widely published short story writer. Among the stories he’s written for us is this one, “Service.”

Another Ghoul/Gallup Review!

GEORGE SAUNDERS VERSUS NICK GALLUP ROUND TWO

ANOTHER writer-reader has generously weighed in with a comparison of the two short stories available for analysis as part of our current Reading Challenge. Michael Maiello graces us with his perspective, in a short essay titled–

Ghouls and Fools for Love

by Michael Maiello

When George Saunders hits The New Yorker, I PDF the stories and keep them in a desktop folder marked “literature.” I’m a fan, the same way I’ve been a fan of David Foster Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut and so many others who have that slightly “off” worldview. A Saunders story, for me, is a little event.

Every new Saunders story benefits from context. He writes frequently about people trapped in a warped capitalism — killing and dying and lying in the service of awful jobs and guided by Byzantine rules. In Ghoul, co-workers compete to rat each other out for procedural violations and when one person’s guilt is established, their fellow employees kick them to death. The system is so warped that you can turn somebody in for their failure to turn you in for your own crimes. Ghoul presents us with a heightened reality that will seem familiar to any American worker, particularly those of us who have dealt with duplicitous employers. Ghoul recalls other Sanders stories, particularly from CivilWarLand in Bad Decline and Pastoralia. Soon, Saunders will release a book of essays about Russian short stories and I wonder if it will be Gogol who most interests him, or if he will surprise me with a fascination for a more naturalist Checkhov.

Ghoul is, for all its social commentary, a love story, perhaps in a dysfunctional vein of 1984. Just Another Silly Love Song by Nick Gallup is also a love story, set in a more recognizable society. With quick pace and heightened detail, Gallup brings us along for the rollicky ride of Tyler’s maturation. It’s not that he falls in love, though he does, it’s that falling in love remains a mystery to him even as we, accompanying him on the journey, get to see how Tyler achieves this by growing into a full person, able to think beyond his needs.

Whereas Saunders gives us oppressed losers who cannot overcome their circumstances, Gallup gives us hard-working people who can overcome themselves. The stories are so patently different in aim that I’ll punt on the question as to which is “better.”

In laying down its challenge for readers to review these two stories against each other, New Pop’s editors say they hold Gallup with the same esteem accorded to the widely celebrated Saunders. Cheers to that. We all know the artists who command the most attention are not necessarily the “best,” given the roles of luck and circumstance behind society’s discovery of any creative person. Those of us who think about these things, though we’re often counseled to try not to, can’t help but imagine that even so widely regarded a figure as Arthur Miller wrote “attention must be paid,” about himself as much as he wrote it for poor Willy Loman.

I salute New Pop Lit for asking the question, as it motivated me to read Gallup and I’m glad I did. I will even PDF his story and save it in that folder marked “literature,” right next to the Saunders.

<<>>

Thanks much to Michael Maiello for his review– and to William Rushing for the prior review.

NOW— is anyone else ready to step into the ring and take the George Saunders versus Nick Gallup Reading Challenge? If so, let us know!

<<<<>>>>

Saunders vs. Gallup Round One

THE GEORGE SAUNDERS VERSUS NICK GALLUP READING CHALLENGE!

Trivia: George Saunders has never been photographed without a beard.

<<<<>>>>

(FOR INFORMATION on our Reading Challenge and how to participate, read this.)

FIRST PARTICIPANT

The first reader to bravely pick up the thrown gauntlet and offer a review of the two short stories is William Rushing. His review:

Apollo Creed vs. Rocky Balboa

by William Rushing

The dialogue from the dinner scene in “Just Another Love Song” was its high point.  Two characters meeting and flirting with each other for the first time.  Parrying each other’s attempts at a clever line.

Somehow Roxy ordering the Porterhouse seemed less believable to me than all the fantasy Ghoul World stuff that was in “Ghoul.” 

“Ghoul” had the natural born talent and skill.  Its pretentious, yes, but I enjoyed it.  It was stylish, and when Amy and Brian laid close to one another in their sleeping slot trying to find a way to forget or otherwise rationalize their betrayals for a life that they had dreamed of, I couldn’t help but relate.

Rocky was a one dimensional fighter with a lot of guts, but Apollo had special effects. 

“Ghoul” matched the dullness of learning about how and why Ty got a Corvette for a great bargain with an unsual underground world of disenfranchised ghouls that begin to learn important things that seemingly flip their dreadful world upside down while they struggle to balance trust, honesty, and loyalty.  All while trying to keep from being kicked and stomped to death by a mob of their peers.  

Ironically, “Ghoul’s” characters seemed more relatable and human to me.  Conversely, Ty seemed like he managed his life very well, but I see people like that every day.  They appear like they have it together on the outside – they don’t interest me as much as those that are openly flawed.  Had he been scared when flying the plane in Cleveland? Had he felt a twinge of superiority when he met Roxy for the second time?  DId he ask himelf if he was being honest with himself when he donated his $1,000 fee for the hot shot flight to the parents of the baby he helped save?  At the time he “didn’t know what came over” him, but surely he’s sorted it out by now.  

A successful boxer presents angles, feints, superior timing when they neutralize a puncher.  I can’t help but thinking that “Ghoul” was more successful in this instance.

<<<<>>>>

Do we strongly disagree with this assessment? Maybe!

But what do you think– about the review and the two stories? Is William Rushing on the mark– or not?

Weigh in!

<<>>

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.

<<>>

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

<<<<>>>>

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!

<<<<>>>>

Movie Melodramas

IS MELODRAMA A LEGITIMATE GENRE?

(from the Warner Bros film “The Roaring Twenties”)

Melodrama in literature, theater, and cinema has gotten a bad name merely because there’ve been so many bad melodramas over the years. (Just as too many contrived happy endings have given happy endings a bad name.) Melodrama is a style open to abuse by hack writers.

But we forget that Charles Dickens wrote melodrama. Wilkie Collins wrote melodrama. Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas both wrote melodrama.

MELODRAMA IN FILM

One of the peaks of melodrama in art came more than thirty years after the end of the Victorian era– in Hollywood, care of Warner Brothers gangster movies. Fast-paced plot, with acting and dialogue completely over-the-top, accompanied by a blaring Warner Brothers soundtrack. The intent was to play on audience emotion– to give moviegoers cathartic release; escape from Great Depression life.

As with any genre created at a particular point in time, the output was uneven. At its best, when all the trademark studio elements properly meshed, the result was terrific art.

THE BEST FILM MELODRAMAS

There were quite a few good ones, but three of the Warners movies stand out.

“Angels with Dirty Faces” (1938)

James Cagney overacts relentlessly, with the Dead End Kids along as foils, Ann Sheridan as the girl, Pat O’Brien as a priest, and Humphrey Bogart as bad guy– a role he played in many of these stories, until World War II came along and– Rick Blaine-style– his characters switched sides.

Not a perfect film, but the story builds swiftly amid societal chaos toward a famous (or once-famous) conclusion.

“Each Dawn I Die” (1939)

Even the title screams with emotion. The ultimate prison film, as framed anti-corruption reporter Cagney is sent to prison, where he meets up with mobster George Raft. A ton of drama and violence follows. As good as it gets, except for–

“Kid Galahad” (1937, aka “Battling Bellhop”)

(an excerpt from early in the film)

— the story and original title later used for a bad Elvis Presley movie.

The original version is terrific, starring Bette Davis and Edward G. Robinson, with Wayne Morris as the nicknamed prizefighter, and a sneering Humphrey Bogart along for the ride.

“Kid Galahad” takes the genre to another level, with a theme of love, unrequited and not, underlying the violence, emphasized with a dollop of soft focus cinematography. The ending– the Bette Davis character staring at a poster– conveys waves of emotion. The culmination of an unceasingly melodramatic plot.

CAN MELODRAMA RETURN?

There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. As we at New Pop Lit look for ways of reviving a stagnant literary art, we’ll add any weapon we can find to our arsenal of artistic styles. Fresh angles to throw at the world.

Which has resulted in our newest zeen:

Crime City U.S.A.

Available NOW! at our POP SHOP.

Is the Best Good Enough?

REFLECTIONS ON A NEW NOVEL

book cover darin

A NEW NOVEL has appeared from one of mainstream publishing’s best authors– The Queen of Tuesday by Darin Strauss. Strauss is a traditional novelist who specializes in imaginative historical fiction about celebrities or curiosities from past eras. His newest book covers the rise and life of classic television personality Lucille Ball– with an intermittent relationship between Ms. Ball and Strauss’s grandfather(!)– part real and part imagined– mixed in.

How capable a writer is Darin Strauss? His last book, a memoir, won a National Book Critics Circle award. The Queen of Tuesday has received rave reviews from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Publishers Weekly, and many other outlets.

The Queen of Tuesday is about the creation of celebrity. Darin Strauss well captures the personality of the type. More, in the novel he’s tuned-in to celebrity culture, its glitz and hype– and by extension, to America itself. Celebrity is America.

An early scene–

THE BIRDS ABOVE Ocean Beach see the drum-shaped premiere lights slide glamour beams along the clouds. The birds see—with a clapped paper bag sound of wings passing—a giant steel-and-glass pavilion, all a-sparkle. The birds see Ziegfeld girls, restaurateurs, a late-arriving Broadway impresario exiting his pleasure sedan. That wind picks up, goosebumping eight hundred arms. The birds see pinups, radio luminaries, heartthrob clarinetists. They see the covetous attractive charmers who take root in the soil around celebrities. (These are the career fawners—the money-takers.) They see Bing Crosby in the flesh. And Ted Mack. And Mary Martin holding Vic Damone’s thick arm. They see clothes as a standard and elegant repression. They see the boardwalk as a splinter that pokes the beach in the eye.

1950’s glamour jumps from the page.

Lucille Ball’s career from failed Hollywood starlet to television phenom and production company owner is the quintessential American success story, more remarkable because Lucy did it in an era when women weren’t supposed to be in charge of a major company. When women were seldom seen at all in upper levels of the aggressively sexist three-martini corporate world of that era.

Strauss portrays the relentless hype of those times (with a Trump thrown in) and he captures the period’s Technicolor vibe. 

<<<<>>>>

It’s a fine novel. Darin Strauss is one of a cohort of hyper-competent authors deployed by publishing’s Big Five. Those who represent not mere temporary Sally Rooney trendiness, but the ability to produce well-crafted fiction seemingly at whim. Beautifully-crafted novels with gorgeous covers. Fit for display at the front of bookstores, so that publishers, editors, agents, the entire panoply of New York publishing can look at them and be well pleased with what they’re producing. Like a General Motors viewing an array of models at a dealership lot. No one could possibly produce a better literary product. No one could write a better book. On their own terms, these statements are completely true.

AND YET– ?

And yet– what’s wrong with this picture? If Darin Strauss isn’t the best contemporary American novelist, he’s near the top. His new novel is colorful and lively compared to those of his peers (from a Sally Rooney to a Jonathan Franzen). It displays every talent– yet, that Darin Strauss himself isn’t a celebrity, on a level which a Herman Wouk or Irwin Shaw reached in their day, says a lot not about Darin Strauss so much as the current literary system itself, and its place in society.

IN the 1950’s, the decade when Lucille Ball was achieving her fame, hyper-competent novelists like a Wouk or Shaw, a Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer or Ayn Rand or John Steinbeck (not to mention Hemingway) were themselves celebrities. Well-known public figures with large cultural footprints.

Today, for the greater American public, not even a Jonathan Franzen or Sally Rooney is a recognizable name– much less a face that would be recognized on the street.

WHAT HAPPENED?

One could write a book on what happened and be wrong in the analysis. But at some point it’s a failure of PR and marketing– has to be. Strauss’s publisher, Random House– the best out there– does everything by the book. It might be the same book from the 1950’s, and even if it’s not it’s time to change it. 

(Though like General Motors with their internal combustion vehicles, the products all look wonderful on display, and run/read well, so why change anything?)

THE NEED FOR CHANGE

Another factor, in this commentator’s opinion, is the need in any business, art, or cultural activity for change. To offer something new. There hasn’t been anything new in the literary realm since the Beats– who came to prominence at the same time Lucille Ball dominated the TV airwaves.

The template for the novel currently in use might be the best possible. No one using it would dream of smashing it for something way more unpredictable, crude, and unwieldy. Yet like 19th century artists destroying the status quo template of the painting, such destruction might be the only way to offer a fresh artistic experience– a different way of viewing the world– than currently available.

We’ll see.

>>>><<<<

-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

The Zeenith Effect?

HOW DO WE DESCRIBE THE NEW?

giphy

We’ve been mulling over possible terms for the effect given the reader by opening the pages to either of our two new print zeens, Extreme Zeen and ZEENITH

The way the images and words seem to pop off the page.

The ZEENITH Effect? POPvision? POPcolor? Gigacolor? Dream Design?

new POP promo (2)-page-001 - Edited

We’re looking for something striking and original– matching the originality of the publications themselves. Which you can look at here.

<<<<>>>>