The Pushcart Prize Xxxiv 2010: Best of the Small Presses

Overview

The most honored literary series in America marks its 34th year of continuous publication.
Reviewing the 2008 edition of The Pushcart Prize, Publishers Weekly called it “a must-have for contemporary literature lovers” (starred review). The Chicago Tribune has raved, “When it comes to contemporary American literature, the small press is where the action is . . . of all anthologies, Pushcart’s is the most rewarding to read straight through.”
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Overview

The most honored literary series in America marks its 34th year of continuous publication.
Reviewing the 2008 edition of The Pushcart Prize, Publishers Weekly called it “a must-have for contemporary literature lovers” (starred review). The Chicago Tribune has raved, “When it comes to contemporary American literature, the small press is where the action is . . . of all anthologies, Pushcart’s is the most rewarding to read straight through.”
In The Pushcart Prize XXXIV more than sixty selections of short stories, essays, and poetry have been picked from thousands of nominations by Pushcart Press staff, contributing editors, and hundreds of small presses. This year Rosanna Warren and Wesley McNair serve as poetry editors. The result is an introduction to a literary world that few readers have access to, where much of today’s important new writing is published, far from the commercial influence of the conglomerates.The Pushcart Prize has been chosen for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement recognition by the National Book Critics Circle and for numerous other awards.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This year's Pushcart anthology offers consistently good prose and poetry that covers a broad range of styles and topics. On the historical front, “Tied to History” by Greil Marcus and “A Poetics of Hiroshima” by William Heyen are among several pieces that reinvigorate well-plowed terrain from WWII, while “Return to Hayneville” by Gregory Orr offers a shocking true tale of police rounding up, imprisoning and battering peaceful protestors in the segregated South. Contemporary standout pieces from J.C. Hallman (“Ethan: A Love Story”) and Charles McLeod (“Edge Boys”) mine the rich veins of, respectively, video games and suburban teenage prostitution. But not all of the pieces work: two of the unsuccessful stories in this volume—Mary Gaitskill's “The Arms and Legs of the Lake” and Brock Clarke's “Our Pointy Boots”—are failed efforts to interrogate the realities of troops returning from the second Iraq War. The anthology is at its most innovative with its poetry, which surpasses the prose in experiments with language and form. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
The 34th annual gathering of the small-press tribes, as broad-ranging as ever. In a time when publishing is conglomerated and compromised and when, notes ringmaster Henderson, writers are called "content providers," it's hard to remain hopeful. Yet, Henderson adds (a touch predictably), we now have "a president who can actually read, write, feel, think and govern," so things may not be so terrible after all. Having worked through 7,000 submissions, Henderson and his fellow conspirators present some of the usual suspects, if sometimes in lesser-known guises: Edward Hoagland as fiction writer, for instance, rather than as travel essayist and journalist. Some of those usual suspects are academics ironically distancing themselves from the academy while honoring all the usual academic tropes. (Identified in that lineup: Christie Hodgens, J.C. Halliman, Brock Clarke.) Other contributors operate somewhere between the fringe and the mainstream, doing their work without much support but with obvious devotion-poet Kim Addonizio, for example, represented here by a delicious send-up of the academic poetry scam: "Spend an afternoon having your makeup professionally done for the taping of a Barnes & Noble interview in which you say things like, ‘If you want to be a writer, you must simply persist.' " Among this year's highlights: a paranoia-tinged story by Richard Powers about a computer virus that may be more deadly than even its makers intended; a superb piece by Adam Zagajewski about the all-too-human but somehow divine Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz ("tender, magnanimous, and charming . . . but when he spoke in public he retained the tone of an angry prophet"); a searching investigation by emergingwriter Ginger Strand of the life of Iron Eyes Cody, and of the big-polluting sponsors of his "crying Indian" ad; and, best of all, a meditation by Sallie Tisdale on, of all things, flies. Smart, if perhaps a touch thick around the middle, as befits the onset of middle age.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781888889543
  • Publisher: Pushcart Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Edition description: 2010 Edition
  • Edition number: 34
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Henderson is the founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize. He received the 2006 National Book Critic Circle’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Poets & Writers / Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. He is also the author of several memoirs, including All My Dogs: A Life. The founder of the Lead Pencil Club, Henderson lives in New York.

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