The Insatiables by Brittany Terwilliger

Reviewed by New Pop Lit.

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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.

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(Photo of Brittany Terwilliger.)

This isn’t one of the stories I remember by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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I had thought I could still make this a story of the revolution, and I do want to. You can see our society has crumbled; made all kinds of horrendous mistakes. Turned us into almost-robots, and all sorts of other things. The shadow of the real …

AS A WRITER Robin Dunn gets away with more than he should.

His ideas are amazingly complex and his imagination is off the charts. He confines himself to no set world or existence– you’re never sure if he’s writing about this dimension or another; about futuristic London or today’s Los Angeles. Or both, at once.

London is the Big Smoke and here in my apartment that is finally its clearest and most literal manifestation, its ultimate meaning: thousands of megatons of pulverized scrap, rubber wood, paper, plastic, silicon, concrete and glass, churning into the sky. In black waves.

(Something devastating has taken place. Or is taking place.)

Where are we? What are our bearings?

My dream self is in an office, working on a poem. Outside, in fantastically bright yellow sunlight, skimpy trees shake in the wind, and brightly polished autos blind me through the window.

The feeling conveyed when reading the Dunn novel is akin to awakening from a dream– half your head in this world, the other in some magical land you just left.

Robin Dunn creates these effects with clarity and beauty.

I’m not precisely sure what genre this novel properly belongs in. Science fiction?

Even if I am a mad scientist, I am still a scientist. I am doing it for you. So that you will know what I have found.

Doesn’t seem technical enough.

Cutting-edge science fiction. Next-level thinking.

Literary? Experimental? Avant-garde?

And what of the forgotten stories? The palimpsests and the echoes encoded into a million tales, each of our words, infinite? Who owns them?

Perhaps Dunn is chiefly a poet.

What’s This isn’t one of the stories I remember about? Part of the magic of reading it is figuring that out.

Is their being something which will retain some marker in the paste of spacetime to insist that its unity and direction, its values and castles and eons– all of it– are true and worthwhile, even inevitable?

Underlining all is commentary, on Dunn’s fictional world, and ours.

While This isn’t is not a novel for everybody, if you’re bored with the usual– if you desire to take your head to unusual places, without dropping acid, and sample one of the more unusually talented writers on this planet– then it’s worth a look.
****

Information on Robin Wyatt Dunn’s books is available here.

Audio of Robin Dunn reading from this book can be heard here.

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(Photo of Robin Dunn.)

Police Stories by Don Waitt

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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“I could see the younger brother flat on his back on the operating table. I could see the blood pumping out of his chest, straight up into the air, just like those little flat water fountains that kids drink out of at the park.”

Fiction or memoir?

Regardless, this is reality, written in straightforward prose that hits you between the eyes like a two-by-four. Five not-always-politically-correct tales of a police beat reporter taken from life.

POLICE STORIES contains short pieces, concise, written with total clarity– too much clarity, like the police photos Don Waitt describes in the strongest of the five stories.

“Bam, bam, bam, those photos kept cycling through my head, always in sequence, starting with the embodiment of goodness and purity and ending with vivid photographic proof that evil had taken on a new definition for me, that my understanding of true evil had, in just a few brief seconds, made a horrifying leap from assumption to reality.”

Depictions of criminal evil, mixed with insight and humor.  Veteran detectives investigating the underside of life, and yes, in this tough world which tough men police, those men– flawed, calloused, cynical– are the good guys.

Five stories. All strong, containing excellent writing.

A free copy of Police Stories can be obtained simply by emailing Don’s daughter Devyn Waitt.

Don Waitt’s first book, Leaving Early, is available thru Amazon here.

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(Photo of Don Waitt.)

Kitty Glitter: Pop Writer

(ADULT CONTENT INCLUDED.)

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A Review by Karl Wenclas

There are many kinds of pop writing, among them Noir Pop, Fun Pop, Romantic Pop, Trash Pop, Speed Pop, and Beat Pop. There’s also Extreme Pop (a variation of Trash Pop) of which the master is a mysterious individual named Kitty Glitter who’s been making waves across the internet. (See this interview at Jezebel magazine.) Obtaining fans but also receiving some of the worst (and best) ratings and most outraged reader comments ever seen at Amazon.

We’re not advocates of Extreme Pop, but we are extreme advocates of Pop writing. Kitty Glitter’s version of it is striking. Not the writing so much as the presentation of the writing– and the promotion of the presentation. Warholesque. As with Andy Warhol, the P.T. Barnum promotion itself is the art.

Is this person on to something? Satirizing American pop culture icons from Katy Perry to Star Trek– yet at the same time celebrating them. Everything about the Kitty Glitter oeuvre catches the pop culture vibe. Each of us could present our own examples to celebrate. To me, the essence of pop culture is Joan Jett and The Runaways singing “Cherry Bomb.” Kitty Glitter is out to capture that essence.

the wetclits colorThe show is outrageous. The breaking of all bounds, tastes, identities, trademarks, copyrights– pushing the limits of speech– so all that’s left is a love of cheezy pop culture. The public’s love of it.

I’ve read a draft version of Kitty’s upcoming e-book novel The Wet Clits, which may have already been released. The Kitty Glitter books are being produced fast and furiously, perhaps to feed the burgeoning public demand for them.
***

His name was Pussy Burner and he rolled up onto the scene on a motorcycle that was burning fuel like it was Hell.

Clitney was the first to notice him. She noticed his hot body and giant muscles. She noticed the Judge Dredd helmet he wore that covered the top part of his face, a helmet with an insignia that looked like a twat with a swastika cut into it.

***
There’s a line between outrageousness and offensiveness. Does Kitty Glitter cross it?
***

“Arr!” Monster of Frankenstein said, “I am the most famous story ever, but to be real, monster is your friend. Please take care of yourself and start making music again.”

“Whatevs,” Clitney said, “I can’t make music without a band.”

“Use four track!” Monster of Frankenstein said as he used his giant green fists to smash Clitney’s TV to pieces.

***
Much of it is impossibly silly.
***

“I’m not scared of you,” Green Kitty said as he pulled out a switchblade, “I’m gonna cut your butt off for what you did to my sister.”

***
We at New Pop Lit believe, Elon Musk style, in breaking down literature into its constituent parts and putting them back together in a new way. Kitty Glitter has some of the Pop elements down– simplicity; superficiality; humor; cliche’. But the Glitzter also makes aesthetic mistakes. More plot hooks, more consistent and defined characters might correct them.

Then again, critiquing the writing is beside the point.

The writing has flair. Amid the omnipresent obscenity, Pop flair. In a crude sense, even style.

Wayward experiment or glimpse at the literary future?

PEE

(Possible upcoming Kitty Glitter book.)

 

Debudaderrah by Robin Wyatt Dunn

A Review by New Pop Lit

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“Come with me, brother, as we descend from Orbit onto Debudaderrah, that second and better Earth–“

What is this? A sci-fi novel? A poem? A dream? An “anarchic government of the mind,” to use a phrase from the book?

DEBUDADERRAH is about a journey to what might be a planet in a distant point of the universe- or a place in the narrator’s head. Speculative fiction at its most speculative, using former modes of sci-fi plotting as a foundation for wanderings literary and physical. As always with work by Robin Dunn, at the base of it all is his home city.

“What is a city like Los Angeles but another planet–“

Robin Dunn is one of the most talented writers in America– yes, for sheer imagination and wordplay– akin to a musical virtuoso who can play any genre, any style, jazz to blues to boogie to Debussy and Chopin. The trick for someone with the kind of ability which seems to come easy is harnessing it. Focusing the talent to sharpen the effect.

Dunn creates effects. Little literary explosions of insights on where we’re headed as a species and a civilization. Or where we exist, on a line between the illusion of material existence and the imaginations of the brain. The mind merging with robots– or with the universe.

“My name is Roberto, come from a planet called Earth, but this is not true. I am an alien, come from another dimension. And a robot, made by you–“

The novel-poem Debudaderrah is a puzzle. It’s not up to me, the reviewer, but you, the reader, to solve it. The key to the conundrum is in this sentence from the book:

“Picasso can occupy ten-dimensional spaces and so can I.”

Dunn has created the literary version of a Picasso painting, of several depths and dimensions, asking the reader to jump into it. To take the poetic trip. Every reader will find there a different experience.

***

Debudaderrah is available at several outlets, including here.

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(Photo of Robin Wyatt Dunn.)

Temporium by Kelly Cherry

A Review by New Pop Lit

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“First on the agenda today is the topic of mystery.”

This is how award-winning writer Kelly Cherry opens her collection of Fictions, Temporium: Before the Beginning to After the End.

The theme of the book is the mystery of time. Cherry takes on a subject more appropriate for a physicist or philosopher than a literary writer, but it works. She makes real to our imagination a philosopher’s questions and wonders. They’re parables, of a kind.

An early piece, “Eternity Dies,” ponders the loneliness of God, and posits the notion that God created the universe to end his loneliness.

“His thinking that thought was the First Cause. Thus even the First Cause was caused, but it was also uncaused, because it was not caused by anything that existed. It was caused before existence existed, by his thinking of his loneliness.”

This is written with a sense of humor. Kelly Cherry is playing with physics and philosophy, with God, and with us.

In “A Maiden and Her Swain” a young couple lives in the Dark Ages as if there were no time, yet time moves forward and they find they’ve aged. The tale is a reflection on the swiftness of aging– of ourselves and our civilization– but it’s also a dream. It carries the timelessness of a dream.

These are all dreams– the kind of afternoon nap dream one has beyond plot and time; a temporary plunge into eternity. You awake with a sense of melancholy, of existential loneliness. Panic. The realization that our lives are impossibly brief– we’d like to live forever in this world but forever can happen only in our dreams. Or beyond this world of matter and onrushing time. A feeling of monumental sadness. This is the feeling Kelly Cherry captures in these fictions; these stories.

Though Kelly Cherry writes in no way like Ernest Hemingway, the book is structured like his early collection, In Our Time, with short interpolations between the longer pieces.

“SIX WORDS
Dead husband taught wife to shoot.”

Wry inserts like that one.

None of the few-score pieces is longer than a few pages. Nearly all are thought-provoking or amusing. A few stand above the rest.

“Aegea,” about a space ark; “Murray the Short Order Cook”; “He Wasn’t There Again Today”; and “Reunion” are my favorites.

One striking thing about the stories is the more surreal they are, the more real they seem. They’re speculations– amid them is an awful lot of truth and life.

They’re experimental pieces, experimental not just in style, but in ideas and theme. Part essay, part poetry, part story. Or: no review can adequately capture the feeling and meaning conveyed by this book. Plunge into it yourself and read it.

****
Temporium is available at Press 53.

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(Photo of Kelly Cherry.)

The Spoilers by Rex Beach

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A Review by New Pop Lit.

When men were men and women were gorgeous– The Spoilers is classic populist storytelling courtesy of Rex Beach, whose popularity at the turn of a century (1905) was exceeded only by that of fellow adventurer Jack London.

In that period American literature was vigorous and thoroughly American– not a copy of stuffy European drawing rooms.

THE SPOILERS: A good girl named Helen and a bad girl named Cherry. The “good” girl may or may not be in league with the bad guys. As to men there’s a politically incorrect roughneck, and a slick villain who everyone thinks is good. . . . Also a mystery man lurking around the edges named the Bronco Kid.

Who’s really bad and who’s good? More importantly, who ends up with whom? Who gets the girl? Which girl?

The melodrama is set in virgin Alaska during the gold rush. On every page is the feel of crisp air and vast landscape. It’s fabulous storytelling, a fun read leading to a famous climax.

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(Photo of Rex Beach.)