The Pushcart Prize XXX: Best of the Small Presses

The Pushcart Prize XXX: Best of the Small Presses

by Bill Henderson
     
 

"[Henderson] has made it his mission over the last thirty-odd years to defy the dumbing down of literature and the culture at large." Kirkus Reviews
This edition of the long-honored anthology of small-press fiction, essays, and poetry marks its third decade, an amazing feat of survival and excellence. Like previous editions, The Pushcart Prize XXX presents over

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Overview

"[Henderson] has made it his mission over the last thirty-odd years to defy the dumbing down of literature and the culture at large." Kirkus Reviews
This edition of the long-honored anthology of small-press fiction, essays, and poetry marks its third decade, an amazing feat of survival and excellence. Like previous editions, The Pushcart Prize XXX presents over sixty selections picked from hundreds of little magazines and presses with the help of over 200 distinguished contributing editors. In the Pushcart tradition, this fascinating collection combines the work of today's luminaries with a host of new talents, creating an exciting assembly of diverse voices. Since 1976, The Pushcart Prize has been "the single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today," according to the New York Times Book Review. Many of today's celebrated writers received their first recognition in The Pushcart Prize, which over the years has tracked small-press enthusiasms from traditional to experimental in an unsurpassed eclectic gathering.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This venerable annual has perfected its own brand of DIY publishing: have the editors of little magazines and presses send you their favorite piece from the past year year, then, with the help of friends, cull your own favorites and, with donations from other friends, publish an anthology. Henderson, a longtime Hamptons resident and Pushcart Press founder, has used this formula successfully for 30 years, and the results remain at the very least solid and entertaining, if predictable. At its core are the short stories that, this year, are often devastatingly centered on cancer (e.g., "Hunters," by John Fulton, from the Southern Review). Then there are the Harper's-like funny-serious political critiques (George Gessert's "Notes on Uranium Weapons and Kitsch," from the Northwest Review); the poems, this year selected by David Baker and Linda Gregerson; and the stick-in-your-mind wild cards ("Songs from the Black Chair," Charles Barber writing about his job at the Bellevue Men's Shelter, from the Bellevue Literary Review and the University of Nebraska Press). Henderson's intro gives a thumbnail of the project's history and serves as an elegy for writer and former NEA chair Frank Conroy, who died this year and who was a "friend and supporter." Simply picking up the book makes one feel like that, too. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The nicest thing about the Pushcart Prize is that it serves as a sort of smorgasbord for anyone hungry to explore contemporary literature not only via new authors, but new publications as well. This year's edition, compiled by memoirist and Pushcart Press founder Henderson (His Son) and more than 200 contributing editors, heralds the third decade of Pushcart's anthologizing small-press authors. As with all the editions, this one contains a selection of some 60 poems, memoirs, essays, and fiction by both emerging and well-known writers. This year's collection is more even than it has been in some years, and overall the quality is quite good. Donald Hall's "The Third Thing" (Poetry) describes his 23 years with wife and fellow poet Jane Kenyon in a New Hampshire farmhouse. Ann Hood's "Comfort" (Tin House) tells the gut-wrenching tale of the loss of a daughter, astounding for its impact and brevity. And Charles Barber's "Songs from the Black Chair" (Bellevue Literary Review) is a heartbreaking and funny recounting of a mental health worker at the Bellevue Men's Shelter. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.-Felicity Walsh, Fayetteville, GA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The venerable Pushcart Prize turns 30. It's looking pretty good, though it could probably stand to lose a little weight and get some more fresh air. It's a year of anniversaries: Threepenny Review, one of the usual suspects in the anthology's pages, is 25, as is the Sonora Review, a student-run contender; Ontario Review is 30; City Lights Books is 50; and so on. As always, Henderson and a small army of volunteer editors scour the literary journals and other outlets to turn up a fine assortment of poems, short stories and essays. Some have the factory sameness of MFA-program-generated work, to be sure, with a self-regarding, anxious feel ("Manhattan, Joy thought, was just a moment's cinder in the eye of eternity." "Am I making sense? Or am I the family disgrace my father says I am?"). Most of the pieces are satisfyingly strong, though, with something to say and some memorable way to say it. Brian Doyle's meditation on the heart, and love, is a standout: "You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you . . ." Tess Gallagher, E.L. Doctorow, Ted Kooser and other mainstays turn in fresh-sounding pieces, while there are delights from comparative newcomers such as Cynthia Shearer, whose Faulknerian novels seem to draw on her service as a guide at William Faulkner's house-turned-museum (" ‘Show me where he drowned his wife in the pool,' said an elderly lady one time. ‘You're perhaps thinking of William Shatner,' said the grad student on duty that day'). A well-focused snapshot ofthe current state of the art for art's sake. As always, though, the collection is hernia-inducing; smaller would indeed be beautiful.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781888889413
Publisher:
Pushcart Press, The
Publication date:
12/26/2005
Series:
Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses Ser.
Edition description:
ANN
Pages:
550
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)

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