The Pushcart Prize XXXI: Best of the Small Presses 2007

The Pushcart Prize XXXI: Best of the Small Presses 2007

by Bill Henderson
     
 

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The most honored literary series in America begins its fourth decade.

With a brilliant collection of stories, essays, memoirs, and poems selected from hundreds of the best small presses, the annual Pushcart Prize sets the standard of excellence for literary anthologies. Each year it invites nominations from a wide array of little magazines and small…  See more details below

Overview

The most honored literary series in America begins its fourth decade.

With a brilliant collection of stories, essays, memoirs, and poems selected from hundreds of the best small presses, the annual Pushcart Prize sets the standard of excellence for literary anthologies. Each year it invites nominations from a wide array of little magazines and small presses and presents over sixty of the best; and each year its annual volume is hailed as a touchstone of literary discovery.

For its thirty-first anniversary celebration, the Pushcart Prize surpasses its own reputation with an astonishing diversity of writers—some renowned and many others destined for fame.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A fictional stranger asks a woman to carry a package onto an airplane; a real '70s housewife sublimates her ambitions through the preparation of extravagant French cuisine; a poet writes of "Hearing News from the Temple Mount in Salt Lake City": this year's gathering of small-press fiction, essays and poetry from venerable stocktaker Henderson is uneven, if sporadically edgy. Standouts center on identity and include Dina Ben-Lev's memory of anti-Semitic pig farmers in Quebec; Mary Karr's confession of her unlikely conversion to Catholicism; and Katherine Karlin's story about a lesbian oil worker trying to be one of the boys in a Delaware Valley refinery. Also noteworthy are Benjamin Percy's short story about smalltown boys who join the reserves and end up in Iraq with their fathers; Karen E. Bender's tale about a routine TriBeCa sublet that goes awry after September 11; Jonathan Carroll's story about how a lawyer's obsession with scaffolding leads to a Kafkaesque metamorphosis; and Philip Levine's tribute to the late poet Thom Gunn, a narrative dominated by the attention-grabbing John Berryman. Some pieces are unsatisfying (such as David James Duncan's rant on fundamentalism), but this sampler whets the appetite for nonmainstream publications and perspectives. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Pushcart pushes on, entering its fourth decade of anthologizing the year's crop of small- and literary- press stories, poems and essays. As usual, these overstuffed pages, always with a surprise or two, contain a mix of the well known and not-though, this year, the number of workshop celebrities seems lower than normal. There is the familiar blend of the exalted with the humdrum, for even after all these years the ghost of Ray Carver looms over the land, chronicling how tedious we have all become. ("Wait, Sheryl. I call the police and there's no stopping it, like a roller coaster it'll just go down, down into tragedy." "The nice thing about a digital camera was it allowed him to see the results immediately." "Thank God I'm only as fucked up as I am and not as fucked up as those other people.") One neorealist development of note is the emergence of Iraq as setting and backdrop, notably in Benjamin Percy's volume-opening "Refresh, Refresh," with its Deer Hunter vision of how war affects small towns that will always supply fresh troops, no matter how its people have suffered. But then there are the evocations of shooting dogs, of accordions in malls, of neuralgia galore; and contemporary writers, it would seem, give pizza an altogether too-central place in the great chain of being, perhaps because they are all former grad students. A mixed bag, then, though editor Bill Henderson and his able assistants have turned up some gems, with some transcendental moments: Brian Doyle cataloguing the things in life worth living for ("You either take a flying leap at nonsensical illogical unreasonable ideas like marriage and marathons and democracy and divinity, or you huddle behind the wall"), WendellBerry gentling chiding the blockhead culture and Maureen Stanton pondering the meaning of laundry and life. There's lots of good writing here, as always. A stalwart, and a staple, of American letters.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781888889444
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
12/18/2006
Series:
Pushcart Prize Series, #31
Pages:
550
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Bill Henderson, founder and editor of the Pushcart Prize, received the 2006 National Book Critics Circle's Lifetime Achievement Award and the Poets & Writers/Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award.

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