cover image The Pushcart Prize XXXIV: Best of the Small Presses

The Pushcart Prize XXXIV: Best of the Small Presses

, . . Pushcart, $35 (565pp) ISBN 978-1-888889-54-3

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.)