Pop Quiz: Fran-Claire Kenney

A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH A MULTI-TALENTED YOUNG WRITER

Kenney profile image

TODAY’S POP QUIZ IS WITH UP-AND-COMING WRITER FRAN-CLAIRE KENNEY.

1.)  What characterizes the perfect short story?

FK:  I’m tempted to just say that the perfect short story is as short as possible, but that leaves little room for character development; it really depends on why you’re reading in general at that point–do you want an exhilarating experience or a meditative one, or maybe both? The thing that works in any scenario, though, and that keeps a reader engaged, is strong imagery and lines of symbolism that jump out at the reader, because those are the things that stick as quotes which will recur into the reader’s consciousness for a long time. It’s also great (but by no means a necessity–nothing is really a necessity in literature except words) when a short story has a fable-like mood or structure, because those stories stick like the pieces of imagery and function almost like bedtime or cocktail stories to the reader who stumbles back into reality.

2.)  What style of short fiction would attract masses of young readers to the art?

FK:  I think that for GenZ folks, who have come of age during a time of sociopolitical conflict, dystopia and sci-fi are very promising. Everything around the world has been happening so fast in the last decade–political power shifts, technological innovations, social movements–that many young people don’t know what to expect, yet have grown accustomed to abrupt change. It’s intriguing to contemplate the relationship between humans and rebelling AI or life in an everlasting cyclone because these things are becoming more and more plausible, and reading about them in short stories allows so much room for speculation and, dare I say it, preparation. (Plus, there’s plenty of room for gore and horror, which everybody loves at least a little too much.)

3.)  How do you see your future as a writer?

FK:  The short answer: varied. I will always write poetry as a means of self-expression and catharsis–and with an abundance of clever and diverse literary magazines out there, I will always edit those catharsis parties into something thoughtful and even publishable. I’d like to be an editor as well, to work directly with fellow writers to improve the delivery of their messages. I’m also entering the world of film in college–not just screenwriting, but also directing, cinematography, production design–there are endless opportunities. Having goals as a literary writer-editor and as a film writer-director may seem like a conflict of interest, but I truly believe that some stories are meant to be told on paper, while others are meant to be told onscreen, and I want to convey both as a writer. Literature and film are a) beautiful, and b) do not have to be at a cultural war with each other–I seek to live that truth in my future.

*** 

NOW listen to two NPL recordings of Ms. Kenney reading her work, here and here.

Pop Quiz: Brian Eckert

A NEW POP LIT Q & A WITH A TALENTED WRITER

brian collage

TODAY’S QUIZ IS WITH ONE OF THE BEST WRITERS NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT, BRIAN ECKERT.

1.)  Favorite writer?

BE:  I’m far too mercurial to have a favorite anything that lasts for very long. I’m currently stanning mountaineering nonfiction and philosophical pessimism, which, I suspect, are deeply related.

2.)  Why did you become a writer?

BE:  About ten years ago, while working on my first novel (which never saw the light of day), I wrote the following, which is as good of an explanation as any: “To not write is to submit without a fight to that external authority which some attribute to the divine, others to the intractable laws of nature. To not write is to live without a voice. It is to live as a ghost.”

3.)  Year the world ends?

BE:  The world ended in 2012. We dropped out of history and nobody noticed.
****

NOW read Brian’s new Featured Fiction with us,  an excerpt from Into the Vortex.

1987 and Other Stories by Vladimir Kozlov

Reviewed by New Pop Lit

1987_Cover_V2-page-001

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.
****

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.

Vladimir-Kozlov

(Photo of Vladimir Kozlov.)