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Featured Author: JJ Lee

It’s December, and Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018 is here! Featured author JJ Lee’s ‘Desdemone’ opens our winter issue with an exquisite Edwardian haunting of a most personal kind.

Multiple-award-nominated memoirist JJ Lee is author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.  Every year, following in the footsteps of ‘Fireside Al’ Maitland, he  presents a Christmas ghost story on CBC Radio in British Columbia, and ‘Desdemone’ was his Christmas 2016 oeuvre.

Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018

We’re delighted to be able to bring this story to a print audience.  This is JJ’s third short story for Pulp Literature, the first being the dystopian Spec Fic piece ‘Built to Love’ in Issue 2 and the Yuletide Lovecraft, Moorcook, Nazi mashup ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’ in Issue 8.

You can save $2 by pre-ordering our Winter 2018 issue here … and then get JJ to sign it for you when you pick it up at the Winter Launch Party, Monday Dec 11th from 5:00 – 7:00pm at the Cottage Bistro on Main St.

To get you in the JJ mood, here’s an excerpt from Issue 8’s ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’, a holiday story with a Lovecraftian twist:

 

The Man in the Long Black Coat

A Chthonic Christmas Tale by JJ Lee

Silesia
December 1944

I don’t remember if Mother’s eyes said it or if she spoke the words, “He’s just a boy.” I do remember feeling anger and burning shame.  I was eleven years old, the eldest. Father had been gone for years.  The weekly newsreel Die Deutsche Wochenschau showed boys my age working in factories, making shells and gun parts.  In school we were told to be “slim and strong, swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.”  I thought I was until I saw Mother’s eyes that night in the winter of 1944.

Herr Mundt didn’t care.  He had arrived from the larger, Lower Silesian town of G______ in search of what he called ‘recruits.’  He dressed in the makeshift manner of the Volkssturm, the People’s Army.  He wore scuffed and muddy railroad boots, brown breeches, and an armband over his grey coat sleeve.  On his collar, Herr Mundt had pinned officer pips.  He topped his head with the kind of hat a butcher would wear.  His attire was theatrical, ersatz, outlandish, wildly officious, and, because he seemed so out of control, menacing.  From his gaze I wanted to hide.

“He has five minutes to gather warm clothes and boots, if he has any,” said Herr Mundt.

He stepped back into the snow and shadows and strode off in the direction of the neighbours.  Mother shut the door.  My legs trembled as I climbed up the stairs and went into the bedroom.  I took off my pyjamas and folded them.  I tucked them under my pillow.  I began to put on as much clothes as I could.  I stuffed more warm things into a canvas bag.  I went to the other side of the bed and leaned down to kiss Lena, my sister, on her forehead.  Her eyes opened.

“You should be asleep,” I said.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take this.”

She pulled from under the covers a tin soldier, my oldest, most treasured toy.

“Where did you find it?”  I fought the urge to snatch it from her and I held out my hand.  She put it in my palm.  I saw the chipped paint on its shako, the blue on its tunic nearly worn through from play, the bent rifle, and the blankness of its face.  It made me think of Father.

“Keep it until I come back.”

I tucked her in, kissed her again, and went downstairs.  Mother said, “You can hide in the forest.”

“I don’t think they will let me.”

A pistol cracked.  A woman’s wail cut through the night.  A minute later, Herr Mundt thumped on our door.  “Frau Steiner.”

Mother clambered into the cellar and came back up holding hunting boots.  “They’re still too big,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter.  You need boots.”

“Frau Steiner.”  Herr Mundt hammered on the door.  I put them on.  I didn’t have time to say goodbye to Mother.

I stumbled after Herr Mundt to a small truck idling in front of the church.  He opened the back and waved his pistol.  I climbed in.  Three other boys from the village — Jens, Rudy, and Zeydl — sat shivering on the side benches.

“Stay in here until we let you out.  If any of you try to run, you will wish you hadn’t.”  Herr Mundt shut us in and we rode without speaking.  At first I could hardly see, but my eyes adjusted to the dimness.  The walls were wood slats with no space between them.  A tarpaulin covered the top.  In one corner, there was a small tear that flapped in the wind.  Through it fell the palest light from the night sky …

Read the rest of the story in Pulp Literature Issue 8, Autumn 2015.

 

Congratulations to Dr Mary Rykov!

twofish2 smallReaders of Pulp Literature will know the high standards of quality that go into every page.  That attention to detail is the result of hard effort from many talented people, including our proofreader, Dr Mary Rykov.  We became friends with Mary in Issue 2, when we printed her wonderful poem, “A Siren’s Tale.”  Since then, Mary has done the final polish on each issue and we only wish she lived closer!

Mary RykovToday we’d like to congratulate Mary on her full scholarship to Sage Hill, where she will enjoy a 10-day poetry residency with Steven Heighton. This is an honour and congratulations are in order! To find our more about Mary and her work as a poet, editor, or music therapist, visit maryrykov.com.

Interview with a Siren

Some slippery characters are harder to catch than others, but poet Mary Rykov slung her net around the fish-tailed catch of ‘A Siren’s Song’ from Pulp Literature Issue 2.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A ship of Argonauts with no wax in their ears.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  A ship of Argonauts with no wax in their ears.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  I sing the ones I love to death.  <sigh>
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Ear wax.
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  I always lie.
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  Those bird feathers.  I much prefer mermaid garb.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “Stop kissing my mouth.”
  8. When and where were you happiest?  Circa 8 BCE at the height of my charms, singing on my lovely Mediterranean island beach.
  9. Which talent would you most like to have?  To sing louder than Orpheus.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  I am celebrated to this day by poets for my beauty and for my clear voice.
  11. What is your most treasured possession?  My beauty and my clear voice.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic?  My mythical status as metaphor for the binding power of death.
  13. Who is your favourite writer?  Homer, of course!
  14. What is your greatest regret?  Circe’s warning to Odysseus.
  15. How would you like to die?  Too late, I’m dead. The ship sailed past, and I died.
  16. What is your motto?  “My song of pleasure leads only to death.”
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘A Siren’s Tale’?   I love the thrill of the catch, but not cleaning the fish …Mary Rykov

Mary H Auerbach Rykov is a music therapist-researcher, writer-poet, educator and editor whose current focus is music-evoked imagery for writers and artists.  She is also our dedicated Pulp Lit final proofreader. Read more at maryrykov.com.

You can find ‘A Siren’s Tale’ in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulp Literature, available through our Kickstarter page.

Interview with the Muse

musefinalbwWouldn’t you love to pin your Muse down and ask her a few pointed questions?  Susan Pieters managed it with Capture of the Muse in Issue 2 … and then got a few more out of her for this questionnaire.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A day in the Louvre.
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Diligence and devotion to the mundane.  Dutiful people who never take time to smile or dream or appreciate beauty, and call their dullness a virtue.
  3. On what occasion do you lie?  Isn’t all art a lie? Otherwise we’d call it reality.  And wouldn’t that be a pity, if we had to stick with reality?
  4. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  The fact it keeps changing upon my mood. This morning I woke up in a diaphanous gown, with waltz music playing in my head.  Now that I’ve had to do this interview, my dress has turned a dismal navy blue.
  5. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “Beautiful! Lovely! Gorgeous!”
  6. When and where were you happiest?  When I was a child, before my parents separated.  I dream of helping them re-unite, but that seems unlikely.
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  I’m very fond of Michelangelo’s David, but I really can’t take credit myself.  All my work must come through human hands.
  8. What is your most marked characteristic?   Cat-like unpredictability.
  9. Who are your favourite writers?  I’ve known so many, but I had the most fun back in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  I’d go anywhere with Jules Verne, and he knew it.  Stories started slowing down around the time of James Joyce, but now things are picking up again.
  10. What is your greatest regret?  That I must use others to create something beautiful.  I’ve been invoked, thanked, and blamed.  But never do I get to sign my own name to anything.
  11. What is your motto?  Art for art’s sake.
Susan Pieters
Susan Pieters

Susan is the author of many short stories, several of which have won prizes.  Aside from ‘Capture of the Muse‘, you can find ‘Glass Curtain‘, ‘Invisible‘ and ‘Below the Knee‘ in past issues of Pulp Literature.  Look for ‘A Discussion of Keats’s Negative Capability‘ in issue 5.

All of the above issues are available on our Kickstarter page.  Subscribe so you don’t miss any.  And if all this talk of Muses has yours nagging you, why not treat her to our Year of the Muse Retreat in January, where you can meet Sue … and her Muse … in person!