The Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses 2008

The Pushcart Prize XXXII: Best of the Small Presses 2008

by Bill Henderson
     
 

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"The Pushcart Prize series is the best of its kind."—Kirkus Reviews

The Pushcart Prize XXXII continues as a testament to the flourishing of American literature in our small presses. Edited with the assistance of more than two hundred distinguished contributing editors—including Joyce Carol Oates, Rosellen Brown, Rick Bass, Carolyn

Overview

"The Pushcart Prize series is the best of its kind."—Kirkus Reviews

The Pushcart Prize XXXII continues as a testament to the flourishing of American literature in our small presses. Edited with the assistance of more than two hundred distinguished contributing editors—including Joyce Carol Oates, Rosellen Brown, Rick Bass, Carolyn Kizer, Edward Hoagsland, Rita Dove, and Naomi Shihab Nye—this volume celebrates over sixty stories, essays, and poems from dozens of little magazines and small presses.

It seems that the more commercial publishers consolidate the more small presses capture and encourage what is lasting and important in our literary culture. Each year The Pushcart Prize has increased from strength to strength as the small presses expand in influence and energy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Henderson culls the year's best short stories, poetry and essays from lit mags and small presses and proves once again that the small venues are great sources for discovering new writers and staying current with the lions. Nam Le's hard-hitting "Cartagena" starts off the collection with a stark portrayal of a Colombian hit man in over his head. In Stephanie Powell Watts's "Unassigned Territory," a reluctant young black Jehovah's Witness finds herself searching for meaningful human connection while handing out Watchtowers in backwoods North Carolina. In Rick Bass's subtle and brilliant "Goats," two aspiring cattle barons roam the outskirts of Houston, buying scrawny calves while keeping tabs on an aging rancher suffering from dementia. Herb Golbert remembers Saul Bellow in "A Genius for Grief," while the posthumously published poem of Liam Rector, who committed suicide earlier this year, evokes a Pulitzer winner contemplating his failure to love ("That's where I truly fucked up./ I couldn't"). Steven Millhauser's "The Dome" offers a creepy if all-too-plausible view of the future in which communities seal themselves off beneath plastic domes. Hipsters and boomers alike will find something to appreciate in this powerhouse. (Dec.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Still published from a garden shed, the venerable small-press anthology turns 32. "We children of the spirit are yesterday's news, if we ever were news," laments founding editor and tutelary spirit Henderson (Tower: Faith, Vertigo, and Amateur Construction, 2000, etc.), who mourns the loss of Pushcart's managing editor and mascot dog in 2007. He might be comforted by the thought that he has helped nourish many a literary career, even if the biggest news is not likely to come from the main run of his contributors, who bear MFAs and teach at universities and colleges throughout the land. They also seem a touch less diverse, culturally speaking, than those of years past, but they provide many pleasures here all the same. Paul Zimmer muses on the teachings of the medieval Cathars: "If you imagine hearing music when the moon is full, you might consider turning a few circles in its light." Melanie Rae Thon provides an evocative story about yet another tragedy on an Indian reservation. David Kirby's wonderful poem, "Skinny-Dipping with Pat Nixon," features a wicked aside on Laura Bush's recent National Book Festival: "if you have too many writers at a book festival / people get the wrong idea." Herbert Gold offers wounded reminiscences about the habitually wounding Saul Bellow. The collection even boasts a brief, lyrical poem by Robert Bly, whose once-legendary output has tapered in old age. There are a few dubious moments, too: stories too steeped in urban tough guy-isms and potty-mouthery to be seemly for nice Iowa grads, a few pieces of mundanely world-weary poetry, a long so-what rambling on pianist Glenn Gould. A mixed bag, as with all Pushcart volumes. But mostly good, and with plenty ofbang for the buck.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781888889468
Publisher:
W W Norton & Co Inc
Publication date:
12/10/2007
Series:
Pushcart Prize Series, #32
Pages:
550
Sales rank:
1,277,344
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.60(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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