Created by three women in Vancouver—Melanie Anastasiou, Jennifer Landels and Susan Pieters—the hybrid PULP Literature “publish[es] writing that breaks out of the bookshelf boundaries, defies genre, surprises, and delights,” according to their website. “Think of it as a wine-tasting . . . or a pub crawl . . . where you’ll experience new flavours and rediscover old favourites.” Created by three women in Vancouver—Melanie Anastasiou, Jennifer Landels and Susan Pieters—the hybrid PULP Literature “publish[es] writing that breaks out of the bookshelf boundaries, defies genre, surprises, and delights,” according to their website. “Think of it as a wine-tasting . . . or a pub crawl . . . where you’ll experience new flavours and rediscover old favourites.”
To kick off the pub-crawl, the creative cover story, “The Man in the Long Black Coat,” written and illustrated by JJ Lee, finds four boys in 1944 Central Europe drawn into WWII. But this is no typical war story, because here comes a monster with “a radiating fan of arms and tentacles.”
In “Whole,” by Joanna Lesher, the young Vanessa has a peculiar way of mourning her brother Richie, who drowned: the word zombie comes to mind. Fred Zackel, a teacher of Canadian fiction and American literature in Bowling Green, Ohio, penned a six-page contemporary story he calls, “The Devil’s Condom.” The title alone makes reading it irresistible, and it’s pretty funny.
Among the “new flavours” this issue are “The Cropper’s Ball,” by dvsduncan, who advises us that his stories are “all true, though not factual.” Dutch illustrator and writer Tais Teng penned his story, “Growing up with your Dead Sister,” putting a new twist on sisterly love. “World of Dew,” by Julian Mortimer Smith, takes its title from a haiku written 200 years ago by Kobayashi Issa. On his website, Smith says his story is “about time, suffering and intergalactic space trucking.” All these stories meet the editors’ goal, offering a taste of a wide range of fiction.
Now don’t get the idea that poets are left out of the mix. Featured are the three winners of the magazine’s 2015 Magpie Award for Poetry, judged by poet and writer Daniel Cowper and Vancouver’s first poet laureate George McWhirter.
Diane Tucker takes first place with “Caffe Pettirosso”: “[ . . . ] I see / the wind toss a girl’s copper hair, her round / head as flaming as a furnace-mouth.” She plays on words and paints a vivid picture, ending with:
This post-rain splendour turns irony to rust,
strips every head of its intentional hat and
turns black to bright yellow, our ashen city skin
to lambent grass, puddle-flash, new-polished pennies.
Two elegies earned runner-up status, Ace Baker with “Water In the Way” and Jude Neale with “Wild Berry.”
The magazine promises future publication for winners of their other contests, one each for short stories, 50-word stories, and flash fiction.
The three editors of PULP Literature showcase some of their own work in this volume. And why shouldn’t they? Anastasiou contributes a graphic short, “The Tailor and the Dragon Archer,” which tells the tale of Sevigny protecting her country from dragons. Pieters’s story “Full Spectrum” takes on mind bending with a “prism pill” and buttons that jumpstart any emotion her protagonist desires. There’s a moral here for readers to find (and a side note where Pieters explains she wrote this before seeing the movie trailer Inside Out). Landels’s input is the current installment of her serialized novel, Allaigna’s Song: Overture. It’s fueled with mystery and magic, royalty and romance. The editors’ work offers a different look into what they publish versus what they write themselves.
If you haven’t explored speculative and cross-genre literature yet, PULP Literature is a great starter. You might stumble a bit, as I did, when encountering some unique compositions, but be assured that literary pleasures await you.