cover image 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI: Best of the Small Presses

2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI: Best of the Small Presses

Edited by Bill Henderson, with the Pushcart Prize Editors. Pushcart (Norton, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (600p) ISBN 9781888889635

The latest Pushcart Prize anthology once again delivers the year's best writing in one accessible package. In "Mishti Kukur," Deborah Thompson recalls visiting her husband's relatives in India six years after his death, and describes the solace she finds in the stray dogs she could watch but not touch. Anis Shivani's "The MFA/Creative Writing System is a Closed, Undemocratic, Medieval Guild System That Represses Good Writing" offers excellent, necessary criticism. Outstanding poetry selections include works by Joy Katz, Mark Halliday, Douglas Goetsch, Judith Kitchen, and Stephen Dobyns. Halliday's "Meditation After an Excellent Dinner" is surely the most irreverent: "When I shop at Whole Foods I try to remember/we are all going to die because this makes the imported groceries/luminous with their being, you know, not forever." Fiction fans will find many new favorites, including Elizabeth Tallent's remarkable "Never Come Back," which tells the story of a family in turmoil after a teenager's pregnancy. In "We Don't Deserve This" by Sandra Leong, absentee parents must face their sociopath children, who have been suspended from boarding school, accused of trafficking other students. This outstanding anthology more than earns its reputation as a must-have for readers of contemporary literature. (Oct.)