#6 Seeds!

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

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(Kurt Vonnegut.)

THESE SELECTIONS are a mixed bag of qualities and achievements. Perhaps all they have in common is that each attained, at some point– while alive or afterward– an enormous critical or popular reputation. Are the reputations larger than the actual work?
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A.)  Harriet Beecher Stowe

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(Etching by Francis Holl.)

Author of the most influential novel in American history. (Abe Lincoln himself half-in-jest credited Uncle Tom’s Cabin with starting the Civil War.) No American novel so keyed into its moment of time– the zeitgeist of the day. Or so provoked the emotions of its readers.
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B.)  James Baldwin

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Like other writers of his era– Gore Vidal; Mary McCarthy– Baldwin was a better essayist than novelist. An excellent essayist, during a golden age of American essays. But he was also a superb short story writer, penning several which retain their power and relevance; “Sonny’s Blues” and “Going to Meet the Man” among them.

(Photo by Allan Warren.)

 

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C.)  Kurt Vonnegut

One cannot ignore the Cult of Vonnegut! He took the serious American novel out of strictly realistic bounds into new worlds. The novels Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions were imaginative and wildly popular– especially among college students. (Would that a novelist could be so now!) In his later works Vonnegut was trying too hard to be original while simultaneously repeating himself. His best novel might be his first, Player Piano.
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D.)  Henry James

A critical darling, reputation courtesy of Harvard and Oxford. Producer of a collection of plodding, word-clotted novels, James makes the Tournament based on three of his shorter works. The pop story “Daisy Miller.” The creepy gothic pop tale Turn of the Screw. And the weirdly effective novella, Altar of the Dead.

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(Portrait of Henry James by Jacques Emile Blanche.)

 

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Upping the Prize!

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

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As there is yet to be a winner in our “Hemingway-Fitzgerald Trivia Question,” first presented here, we’re upping the prize a bit. We are now offering a $20 Starbucks gift card to the first correct answer posted here, or at the original blog post.

“But”– to quote Gertrude Stein’s famous final words– “what is the question?”

“In what two F. Scott Fitzgerald pop stories was a major character a thinly-disguised version of Ernest Hemingway?” 

Good luck!

 

FACES AND FIVES by Dan Nielsen!

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AT our table at the big Allied Media Conference in Detroit this weekend we’ll have a variety of publications on sale– including our first NEW POP LIT print issue. But we’ll also have on display and for purchase ample copies of the offbeat chapbook Faces and Fives by Dan Nielsen.

What are Faces and Fives, you ask?

They’re kind-of art and they’re kind-of prose and they’re kind-of poetry, all rolled into one. They’re readable and fun and they’re perfect for a project like ours dedicated to presenting pop lit of a sort which can nowhere else be found. To really discover what Faces and Fives are you’ll have to be at the conference!

(We were so impressed with Dan Nielsen’s Faces and Fives we’ve asked him to join our outfit!)

K.W.

Questions for Wred Fright!

Wred Fright

Today we throw a few impromptu questions at zine superstar Dr. Wred Fright, hoping to catch him off guard. How will he respond?

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QUESTION #1: Do you have a favorite short story writer living or dead?

ANSWER: I do not have a single favorite short story writer as I like too many to pick just one.  However, I will name a few for anyone looking for a good read.  I recently reread a book of stories by P. G. Wodehouse and enjoyed them quite a bit, though it was easy to see his winning formula at work when reading a bunch in a row (better to read one at a time).  And, just today, I read “The Egg” by Sherwood Anderson and was reminded of just how good a writer he was.  Among Americans, I’d say the three best in the last century were Carver, Hemingway, and O’Connor, but with so many fine writers to choose from, that’s certainly quite debatable.  Worldwide, Borges, Joyce, and Murakami come to mind.  I’m also a little puzzled that the Nobel folks apparently think that Alice Munro is a better writer than Margaret Atwood.  Not only are Atwood’s stories more interesting, but she’s a more versatile writer overall.

QUESTION #2: Who will save Cleveland: Lebron James, Johnny Manziel, or you?

ANSWER: I gave up on Cleveland sports when my fellow citizens reauthorized a sin tax so I can pay more for beer and the team owners can have more money to pay men millions of dollars to play children’s games, so I have no opinion on whether it will be LeBron or Johnny saving Cleveland. Given the history of local sports, I would forecast more disappointment, but I hope that I am wrong. It also probably won’t be me; I’m only here by happenstance and have little interest in the area anymore, though I remain somewhat oddly fond of it. Cleveland could probably save itself if the people here would quit being so corrupt, incompetent, and insular (hey, even changing two of the three might work). My best local illustration of what it’s like to live here is a recent murder of a barowner, in which the leading citizenry of the area did their best to rally not for stamping down on crime or ending the poverty that can lead to it, but for convincing people that they should be sure to patronize the restaurants and shops in the neighborhood of the murder. I was reminded of the idiocy of George Bush when he encouraged people to go shopping to support the war on terror. Money apparently trumps everything else in America anymore (maybe it always did), even basic decency and sense, and Ohio is essentially America in miniature.

QUESTION #3: Should the UFC’s Ronda Rousey fight Cris Cyborg?

ANSWER: I don’t follow UFC, so I also have no opinion on Rousey and Cyborg (based on non-answers such as these, I apparently am approaching Zen enlightenment or complete apathy–in any case, I apologize, as the questions were good). People actually trying to hurt one another is disturbing and hurts my delicate artistic feelings (which is better, at least, than getting kicked in the head). I figured out that I pretty much only like wrestling because it allows me to tap into the reptilian part of my brain that enjoys competition and violence while actively subverting and ridiculing that aspect with the cartoonish humor and underlying ballet where the opponents are actually working together. Maybe it’s the same in UFC, but they’re better at hiding the strings. I don’t know, but I like Brock Lesnar much more when Paul Heyman does his talking for him.

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Wred Fright is the author of the two novels, The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus and Blog Love Omega Glee. For more information about him, please visit http://www.wredfright.com

(Watch for Wred’s pop story, “Brian Moves Back,” soon to be posted at our main site, http://www.newpoplit.com)

NPL Home Base?

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Does NEW POP LIT need a home base?

Which will be the key spot in the upcoming paradigm shift– the “Third Way” pop literature change?

We’re scattered around the Great Lakes area– a rough semi-circle of Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee. For the time being, this will be our epicenter of activity. We plan to focus on all these towns. BUT– at some point, possibly early next year, will we need to focus more on one location? This may depend in part on the response we receive from the various cities.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of each town, from a literary/publishing standpoint?