Howls From The Underground

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

howls from

IS the literary underground on the rebound? The new anthology from Screamin’ Skull Press suggests the answer to that question is YES!

Screamin’ Skull is a very cool literary project run by one of the coolest couples in all the lit world, Tony and Nicole Nesca (both whom we’ve reviewed previously). Their wonderful words bookend this collection and are in themselves highlights.

HOWEVER, the big surprise is a host of other indie word talents included as well.

Talents such as Ali Kinteh, who contributes two superb essays.

The world is filled with whippets laden by pubertal and piteous interests and I can ill afford to fritter away my time when I have so little of it left. I am only interested in what is equitable and authentic.

-from “The Agony and Ecstasy of Penmanship”

Or Laura Kerr, an artist-poet who’s able to turn words into a type of visual artistic display.

I am split screen greens and
scarlet line rockets
upright on my reinforced skyscraper legs
lifting my battery-box torso arched against
election guns and a phosphorescent socket

-from “In The End”

C.S. Fuqua has 14 poems in the collection, and also designed the cover.

eyes avoiding eyes,
smiles fleeting, dismissing,
attention centered on phones connected
to the disconnected media of society,
platforms from which platitudes and concern
suicide dive into oblivion.

-from “At the MRI”

Definitely among the highlights are three slice-of-life short stories by Chrissi Sepe overflowing with gritty reality combined with wistful melancholy and a dab of cynicism– with humor in the last one about a strange European couple, and cockroaches, and. . . .

sepe two - Edited(Chrissi Sepe.)

They’re stories which give the same feeling as listening to New York City-style punk rock songs. They show the reader life.

With his poetry, Scott Laudati gives some of the same feeling.

the city is finally yours.
just a faraway hum of an ambulance.
no taxi horns.

-from “Leave Me Alone”

Stephen Moran offers two striking short stories.

“Transitory” is a written-out nightmare. The kind of paranoid dream each of us has on occasion. A sense of disconnectedness and alienation.

“A Parable” has a double theme.

First, the toxicity of males in this society which must be restrained.

Second, a subconscious unspoken unheard complaint at the restraint.

It’s another example of words becoming a painting in which the viewer sees various things– depending on the viewer, of course.

G.H. Neale is a fiction writer who pushes at the outside envelope of what can be done with language.

“Carlo, don’t cuss, you should think of your body, hun. You should treasure your body,” hypocritically interjected the beefy American’s double-fatted wife, whose spaghetti-strapped crop top was salami-slicing deeply into her own fleshy chorizo heftiness of unctuous and glutenous lard.”

-from “En La Plaza Mayor”

(Reading this story started me thinking how close writers are to breaking through a literary sound barrier– using words in newly-creative ways, as G.H. Neale uses them, one part of that.)

I wish I had the space to quote more from this collection. From Ted Prokash, Thom Young, and the Nescas themselves.

I wish I had the words to convey the experience of opening the book and finding all these variegated pieces together, reflecting on one another like a many-sided cubist three-dimensional painting.

I wish I could more fully express the importance of underground writers creating outside the mental conformity of boxes of one-size-fits-all programs and artistic-dictatorship conglomerates.

These are stimulating reads from a variety of authentically underground talents– in spirit and fact. They present literary punk– literary jazz– with all manner of heartfelt-and-honest notes in between. Literary music. Present and future writing.

Check out Screamin’ Skull Press here.

tony & nicole nesca

(Photos of Tony and Nicole Nesca.)


The Insatiables by Brittany Terwilliger

Reviewed by New Pop Lit.

Insatiables_front cover

Brittany Terwilliger’s new novel The Insatiables (Amberjack Publishing) is as highly amusing– often hilarious– as its rave reviews have advertised. The surprise is that it’s also one of the best inside looks at the madness of contemporary corporate capitalism as you’re likely to find.

–Generation 3 came of age in a world that created more information in a week than humanity had created in its first two hundred millennia. Reputations could be made and broken at the speed of a Tweet. Socialization went digital, and someone was always watching. The founding work ethic had been preserved, but it was no longer a matter of working from nine to five and going home. The phones stayed on. And as the world spun faster, so did everyone’s need for escape.

THE PLOT: The curiously-named Halley Faust is ready to sell her soul for the opportunity to rise to the upper echelons of Findlay Global Manufacturing. The immediate means to that end is a trip to France to help prepare the launch of Findlay’s mysterious new product– upon which Findlay Global Manufacturing has risked everything.

WILL Halley succeed in her quest– and at the same time find love with a charismatic French business client?

Rousseau and I talked and talked, about travel and getting out of Dayton, about family, and Findlay lore. Eventually, we walked out to the terrace, and he sat next to me on a padded bench. The night started to shimmer, and in a disappearing cloud of spicy cigar smoke I tilted my head back and looked at the stars.

(Brittany Terwilliger writes very well– sometimes with a wry sense of humor standing directly off stage.)

The success of the novel depends upon two factors.

-The atmospheric French setting and unique customs (even little things such as grocery shopping) which Terwilliger is a master at capturing.

-The often-ingenuous, occasionally-crafty personality of Halley Faust, who we come to know well. Halley is a kind of everyperson with whom the reader can’t help but identify. Her dreams and failings are ours. As the story progresses, Halley gains something akin to wisdom– or at least, insight about our crazy society.

How much lovelier life must have been before phones and email. Before computers and electricity. Before humans decided it was necessary to fabricate a whole universe then spend their lives maintaining the fabrication.

Witty and smart; romantic, informative, and fun, The Insatiables is for everyone.

You can order The Insatiables here.


(Photo of Brittany Terwilliger.)