Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses

Edited by Bill Henderson, with the Pushcart Prize editors. $19.95 paper (656p) , $35 (656p) ISBN 978-1-888889-71-0
In its 38th edition, the Pushcart Prize anthology features a diverse selection of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction from hundreds of small presses. Exceptional fiction includes “A Full-Service Shelter,” Amy Hempel’s tale of tireless animal shelter volunteers taking on the Sisyphean task of saving animals slated for execution, as well as Lorrie Moore’s “Wings,” in which a washed-up musician finds an unlikely companion in her elderly neighbor. While some experimental fiction selections lack depth, the collection is more than redeemed by its striking nonfiction and essays, such as Andre Dubus III’s “Writing & Publishing a Memoir,” which is about reconciling his past with the version of it he presents in his coming-of-age memoir Townie; “The Healing Powers of the Western Oystercatcher,” in which Howard Norman recovers from the shock of a brutal murder-suicide that occurred in his home; and Bill Cotter’s account of being tasked with curating a collection of “the most important works of literature of all time,” in “The Gentle Man’s Library, a Nowaday Redux.” The collection’s poetry, selected by guest editors Patricia Smith and Arthur Sze, captures a variety of styles and subjects, with standouts from Louise Glück, Jeffrey Harrison, David Hernandez, and Eduardo C. Corral. With large publishing houses facing an uncertain future, the Pushcart Prize is more valuable than ever in highlighting the treasured voices thriving in America’s small presses. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/26/2013
Release date: 11/01/2013
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