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.
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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”
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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”
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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”
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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.
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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”
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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Check out Screamin’ Skull Press here.

tony & nicole nesca

(Photos of Tony and Nicole Nesca.)

 

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Let It Bleed by Nicole Nesca

UNDERGROUND RIFFS PART TWO
A Review by New Pop Lit

letitbleed

“–throwing my arms around the world, Buddha, Christ and anyone else who has an ideology a purpose and a yarn and a barn to sell twisting into shapes and people and things wandering and wondering into the shadows of the new day–“

THIS is the second publication we’re reviewing from Screamin’ Skull Press. There’s more reality, more humanity, in the two modest volumes than in scores of books of conglomerate-produced “literary” works.

“I think of all the books I want to read and that I want to write. I think of all the original music in my head and the paintings I have yet to create.”

This comes at the end of one of Nicole Nesca‘s prose poems. It’s the credo of the writer. Of any artist.

LET IT BLEED is a writer bleeding emotion, history, and imagination onto the page. Nicole does this in chapter after chapter, a many-hued mix of poetry, prose and stories bleeding into one another, sublimated to her intelligence and her voice. It’s appropriate for Nesca to mention paintings– these are word paintings. When you read them you see the emotion– the artistic blood– dripping from the sentences, as if she opened a vein and out flowed creativity.

“I raze myself every couple of weeks to allow the pain, the happiness and the beauty of life to melt into a pot to ponder to create to sell to be as the gentle reminder that one day I too will be old and unable to do things that foolish people do my eyes sting–“

Paintings set to rhythm, combining all things words are able to be:
-Be visual. These works are visual.
-Be musical. The words flow rhythmically into the ear like a cool jazz cadence.
-Be real. They’re real. Hyperreal.

Do we have a favorite from this collection? Yes! “Absinthe,” and “Johnny,” and “What would Hemingway say?” and “Nephew,” and “Should we all ‘let it be’?” and “Red, White and Very Blue,” and. . . .

Reading this slim volume is like late night listening to a just-released album of new jazz or new rock, discovering that writing can still come alive, be direct, be relevant, be today.
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Check out their site here. An exciting lit happening.

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(Photo of Nicole Nesca.)

 

 

 

Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney

A Review by New Pop Lit

bright precious days Jay Mc

Dinosaurs! All dinosaurs.

In style, the well-hyped “big” lit novels from Big Publishing in New York are dinosaurs. Just as surely as were the long, tank-like automobiles of the 1950’s. Cruising leisurely along with giant fins gleaming. A display of waste and ornament.

BRIGHT, PRECIOUS DAYS by Jay McInerney is the dinosaur novel in question. Not a bad novel, if you can stick with it. Tale of a publishing Insider caught in domestic crises involving bimbos and billionaires. Overpriced wine, food, and drugs. Hard-cover version sold last year for $27.95. Lavish coverage by New York print media. Swanky release party in the Hamptons. Not a ripple in the greater culture. In 1959 when big dinosaur novels were the thing, it would’ve been a best seller.

Much of McInerney’s writing style– the standard literary style for decades– is ornament. Long paragraphs of useless description or rumination. Waste. In his long and successful career Jay Mac never realized the more description he gives of a room, the less clearly the reader sees it. T.M.I. You could cut out half the verbiage. It’d be a better read and sell for half the price.

THE INCREDIBLY SHRINKING LITERARY WORLD

Jay McInerney writes for an audience which no longer exists. Today, even the leisure class has no leisure time. In reality, he writes for book reviewers at newspapers– entities which are themselves vanishing.

Obsolescence– provided by the bloated bureaucracies of the New York book conglomerates.

Even the book’s concept is from another era. McInerney’s long-ago first novel had a style which grabbed the reader’s attention. He’s forgotten why that hit novel was a hit. In the 1980’s Jay McInerney was the literary future. Today he, his book, its artistic premises– the conglomerate agent editors entire edifice which produced it– are the quickly vanishing past.

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(Photo of Jay McInerney.)