This Hasn’t Been A Very Magical Journey So Far by Homeless

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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“I move through the world like it’s some sort of mirage. I move through the poetry the same way someone moves through a ghost they don’t see but is still there. And it really is there, the poetry. Poetry is everywhere because life is everywhere. But how can you write about life when you’ve completely fallen out of love with life? You move through the world, or your perception of the world, like some kind of lethargic tumbleweed.”
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Everything in the established literary world is geared toward standard status quo opinion. Everything among the literary cognoscenti is geared toward their peers, the herd of acceptable thought. NOT toward those writing outside the margins of approval or disapproval of the Big Five-financed literary establishment. Which are the only margins that matter. If you’re announcing your love of the marginalized at swanky dinners in Manhattan, at hyper-expensive chi-chi restaurants on Wall Street– Big Five-published marginalized– then how marginalized are they?

One writer who’s not on Wall Street but is marginalized and has named himself Homeless has written a novel published by an indy outfit named Expat Press.

The novel: THIS HASN’T BEEN A VERY MAGICAL JOURNEY SO FAR

I suspect Homeless is one of those homeless or near-homeless people you see throughout the island of Manhattan– that hyper-expensive island hyper-blind to its own authentic artists and writers– one of the characters handing out flyers to tourists in Times Square trying to survive to keep their art alive in that insular island dreams and disasters. . . .

His novel “Journey” has the vibe of homelessness, though it reads like a surrealistic dream, one of those dreams we all have which seem starkly real yet also mad and last forever, for days, then you wake up and you’ve been asleep for two hours. An experiment in reality and time.

The plot? There’s not much of a plot. Only a tale that begins in a hospital when the lead character meets a talking cat–

Hank Williams knows cats don’t speak. He knows they only purr or meow or sometimes screech and howl depending on their mood. But something about this unnatural act of the cat greeting him seems very natural, like it’s supposed to be happening, this unusual verbal exchange between human and feline.

–and they go on a long highway which might be a real highway or could be a highway of the mind. A mix of reality and unreality.

Isabel stops cupping her breasts and looks up around the ceiling, her face expressing intense levels of anxiety.

“I feel like an angel is locked onto my head with a sniper rifle. Like an angel’s lying on a cloud somewhere above me, staring down his scope at my head with his finger resting lightly on the trigger, ready to blow my brains out the back of my head and all over the wall.”

The narrative has the poignancy of a dream.

Expat Press is publishing more than a score of striking new writers. Fascinating, confident, intelligently imaginative writers. I see announcements about them everyplace. Their work isn’t pop and it’s not literary– it’s something underground that you’ll have to read for yourself to decide if it’s your thing. They might be, like Homeless, from the streets, or they might be instead the refuse of the academy. Or something in between. Are they the future– a possible path or magical journey showing the literary future?

That’s not for us but for you the reader to decide. They’re here and aren’t going away.
****

Purchase his book here. Do it.

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(Photo of Homeless.)

 

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Go-Go Day by Elizabeth Sims

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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Regina knew perfectly well what Barb and everybody else thought of her. She was a Seybold. Her brothers and sisters, all way older, were gone from the house except Earl, the third oldest, who had been and come back from Afghanistan and was having a hard time getting interested in working. The Seybolds lived in the shabbiest double-wide in Dustin Point, Michigan. You could almost smell the cigarette smoke and dirty feet from the street.
****

ANYONE assessing America’s best short story writers needs to include Elizabeth Sims in their survey.

GO-GO DAY presents four stories– only four, but every one, in different ways, is terrific. They’re sustained by hidden wit and a large underpinning of humanity.

The four tales:

“Dixon Amiss”:  Two one-armed men show up at a man’s door one Saturday morning, ostensibly to look at an old-fashioned printing press, bringing with them much tension.

“The Cashmere Club”:  Two high school girls discuss shoplifting a cashmere sweater in order for one of them to join an exclusive school club.

The best story in the collection,  “The Cashmere Club” is also one of the best stories you’ll read this year, or any year. Like the other three tales, the narrative keeps the reader off balance at the same time it achieves– beyond the complications of plot– surprising understanding and depth. Ultimately, a sense of context about the dilemmas of time and life

“West Forkton Days”:  A young man with expansive dreams arrives back in his Indiana home town from Los Angeles for the funeral of his father.

Hale knew that hardly anybody who wanted to succeed in the film business actually did. Everybody he met in LA told him over and over how hard it was to make it, what a bastard of a market it was to crack. And yet everybody was trying like a maniac to be the one.

This story could be called wise but it’s also hilarious. Hale Hobson is all of us– a striver, a dreamer, but a little bit lazy and more than a bit hapless

“Go-Go Day”:  The title story is about an elderly home owner asked by her city to clean up the swimming pool in her yard, which hasn’t been touched in years. Memories and complications ensue. Catch the double meaning of the phrase “We’re Going Places!” evident at the end

These are four excellent stories which demonstrate that the short story can be readable and engaging, yet also contain wisdom and convey meaning about what it’s like to be a human being in this crazy world. Which is what literature is really about.
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Find out how to read Go-Go Day here.

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(Photo of Elizabeth Sims.)

1987 and Other Stories by Vladimir Kozlov

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

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Igor died at the end of the ninth grade in May. He was drinking wine on the bank of the river, then he went swimming and drowned.

Ten tough stories from Russian author Vladimir Kozlov which are distinctly unromantic. Most are set during perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, examining the lives of those coming of age in that system. Incidents include a man picking up a woman on a bus, a boy falling off a roof, punks celebrating Hitler’s birthday; protests and police; classrooms, liaisons, rebellions, fights– a lot of them– and unemotional, often awkward dates. To say this is a world without illusion is an understatement. There are enough glimpses of now to believe things in Russia since then have not greatly changed.

Lenka’s father was an alcoholic and used to be a math teacher. People said he sobered up and fell off the wagon a bunch of times, and that he was fired from his regular job because of it. Now he was working as the school’s security guard at night.

But he also used to be a poet, and ten years ago or maybe longer, his poetry always used to get published in the city newspaper. Lenka hated her parents and they hated her.

The two best stories in the collection are the title story, “1987”– about the arrival of punk music and punk attitudes into a Soviet town– and “Olya.”

I walked on further to Victory Square. I went into the Dawn Bookstore, in the five-story building next to the trolley bus stop. Olya was sitting behind the counter, reading a book wrapped in a newspaper dust jacket. She looked up at me and said, “Hi.”

“Hi,” I answered. “You work here?”

“Looks like it, doesn’t it?” she said.

“Olya” is a pessimistic tale about a young woman with much promise, then with no promise. An analogy to the society. The character is never described, but we can see her, the expression on her face, based on her words and her life. Fallen potential– the story opens with the narrator thinking he glimpsed her twenty-five years later, but he isn’t sure.

The theme of these stories is the absence of dreams– the impossibility of dreams.

“Worker’s is a neighborhood for lame-o proletarians and peasants. The worst part is, the teachers that work at that school get to be the same way after a while. I know they all used to talk about me. But I don’t give a shit.”

Another very good story is “The Major,” which we’re privileged to present as our current fiction feature, for the first time anywhere in English, as translated by Andrea Gregovich.
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After I read the stories, I went with my contributing editor KMC to a small diner in a depressed community downriver of Detroit. Three high school students, two boys and a girl, lounged in one of the booths. Tough kids. I realized that Kozlov’s stories reminded me of downriver Detroit. The same sense of being trapped in a box; same gray attitude and acceptance of life.

Vladimir Kozlov’s stories are unflinchingly real.
****

Right now you can purchase this collection as an e-book for only five dollars, at Fiction Advocate, here. Buy it and keep up with the authentic literary world.

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(Photo of Vladimir Kozlov.)

 

Last Stop to Saskatoon by Tony Nesca

UNDERGROUND RIFFS PART ONE
A Review by New Pop Lit

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“my radio playing 1970’s rock and roll on
rain-soaked afternoon
with my bottle of Rye
ice rattling in the glass
blue smoke thick in the room
and the airwaves carrying thoughts of
death and internet madness”

OCCASIONALLY we receive DIY zines or books and are pulled against our will back to our underground roots.

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LAST STOP TO SASKATOON is a 2018 “Howl” at a time with reasons for howling. Maybe the only response to the crazy chaotic age, when we’re bombarded with crisis 24/7 by media, is to find, as Tony Nesca does, an outlet in art. A time for crafting fiery words and making combustible art. Many are doing it outside the gaze of the “Big 5” New York-centered conglomerate publishing scene. Outside, beneath, and behind the machine.

“in the name of freedom hunting all that
speak slurred thoughts of
nothing voices in the
barroom living-space and
in Italy they drink espresso at night
and dance the morning till noon skip
dreary workday on the sand
spread-eagled happy”

It’s in such writings that you find today’s reality. Where you find true voices full of pain and outcry, of naked humanity.

Nesca is part of Screamin’ Skull Press, a two-person indie publishing project cranking out slim books of such words. Check out their website here, order a few of their books, find out what’s happening. (We’ll be reviewing another of theirs next week.)

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(Photo of Tony Nesca.)

Interview with a Filmmaker

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TODAY we feature an interview with movie maker Pat O’Sullivan, best known for his 2012 film Space Werewolf. O’Sullivan has been getting buzz for his upcoming project, the film version of the Kitty Glitter book Jason vs. Katy Perry. We reviewed the oeuvre of Kitty Glitter in our previous post.  Now, a movie version of one of K.G.’s books! The world of art moves quickly.
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NEW POP LIT:  “How long have you been making movies?”

PAT O’SULLIVAN:  “I’ve been making movies on VHS and 16mm as far back as the 90’s. I took a break for about ten years to play in several bands around Chicago, and then got back into film a little over five years ago when digital cameras became more prevalent. I never stopped writing though. I was still writing screenplays and writing about movies for CHUD.com.”

NPL:  “Who’s you favorite all-time movie director?”

PAT:  “Favorite all-time director? Alex Cox is definitely towards the top of that list. I love the ‘anything can happen’ style of Repo Man and Straight to Hell. Coming up in the 90’s though it’s hard not to feel like you owe a debt to the likes of Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino as well. For the sake of argument let’s just go with Alex Cox for now.”

NPL:  “How did you hear about Kitty Glitter?

PAT:  “Random ad on Twitter. I had no idea who they actually were when I optioned the rights to Jason vs Katy Perry. That’s the beauty of the internet. You read someone’s Literotica story and it can be Stephen King using a pen name for all you know. It’s wild. So many of us artists are so concerned with pushing our own ‘brand’ we don’t realize the power and freedom in the anonymity of it.”

NPL:  “Why does the world need the film Jason vs. Katy Perry?”

PAT:  “I don’t think any of us are pompous enough to think the world needs this film. Simply put, it does not. I do know that there’s value in telling stories and making people laugh, taking people on a journey. This film is a very, very unique vision, one I’m lucky enough to merely be the conduit of. Is Jason vs Katy Perry a summoning song for cultural entropy? A message to the kids to kill your idols? An excuse to watch attractive women run around the woods topless and covered in blood? It’s all these things and none of these things. It’s just this anomaly that exists, that some nutball wrote it and an even bigger nutball came along and said ‘Let’s make a movie out of it.'”
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Pat O'Sullivan

(Photo of Pat O’Sullivan.)

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.
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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.

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

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Much of it is impossibly silly.
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“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.”

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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.)

 

Miserable Adventure Stories by Alex Bernstein

A Review by New Pop Lit

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“Fleeing from an Earth overrun by personal fitness trainers, Mark Savage and his pal, Dani, wander the stars in their two-person rocket, Charlemagne! Their destination: Somewhere Other Than Earth!
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POP FICTION– that long overlooked entity, has been making a comeback. Overlooked for decades with the dominance of writing programs scorning pop stories while presuming only the “literary” is acceptable– never consulting the end result of their training: the reader. Pop is making a comeback with the rise of DIY and micropress publishing. Under new rules with fewer gatekeepers, or new ones, the first necessity for writing is to compete.

WHAT’S a pop story?

In the tradition of O. Henry, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Zane Grey, a pop story can be humorous, heartwarming, romantic, involving, exciting, or simply entertaining. Or all of these things.

MISERABLE ADVENTURE STORIES is a variegated collection of pop fiction by one of the best practitioners of the pop story, Alex Bernstein. Three of the stories aren’t miserable, they’re masterful. (One has appeared at our site.) Masterful examples of the pop genre. We won’t tell you which ones they are. You’ll have to discover that yourself.

The other pieces are a mixed lot, ranging from groan-style bad jokes, to hyper-imaginative bizarro sci-fi scenarios, to laugh-out-loud good jokes, such as “Hamlet (Epilogue).” The commonality: They’re all entertaining.

Interested in reading as reading? Buy this publication!

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Miserable Adventure Stories is available here.

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(A photo of Alex Bernstein.)