The Pushcart Prize XXV: Best of the Small Presses, 2001 Edition

Bill Henderson

ISBN 10: 1888889225 / ISBN 13: 9781888889222
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[ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ][ Ships Daily ] [ Underlining/Highlighting: NONE ] [ Writing: NONE ] [ Edition: twenty-fifth ] Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc Pub Date: 11/1/2000 Binding: Hardcover Pages: 600 twenty-fifth. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: A collection of short stories, essays, and poems, culled from small presses and literary journals.

Review: Looking back on his 25 years of editing the Pushcart Prize Best of the Small Presses anthology, Bill Henderson writes, "I was somewhat of a fool but I thought at least 'a holy fool' as Ted Hoagland described us small press types in his introduction to PPXVI." The term "holy fool" might be a red flag for some readers: Does this mean Henderson prints writing that's good for you, but no good? Rest assured that the Pushcart Prize is, was, and ever shall be virtuous and fun to read.

This 25th edition is by way of being a celebration of this vital series--one of the most fascinating pieces in the collection being, simply, a list in the back of the book of "Presses featured in the Pushcart Prize editions since 1976." Their very titles give an idea of the breadth, excellence, and sheer weirdness of the Pushcart project. You'll find Black Scholar, Prairie Schooner, Revista Chicano-Riquena, North Dakota Quarterly, and something called, rather evocatively, Lucille.

This year's collection, as befits a silver anniversary edition, is full of uncompromising work from writers both well known and unknown. It starts off in an elegiac mood with "The Anointed," a lovely, melancholic story by Kathleen Hill that recalls Alice Mattison and was also collected in the 2000 edition of the Best American Short Stories. Things get a bit hotter with Sharon Doubiago's poem "How to Make Love to a Man": "Remember like gripping / a tennis racket." Just to keep things au courant for 2000, there's "Two Prayers," a short, sharp shock of a story by Paul Maliszewski, collected from Dave Eggers' hip-to-be-square magazine-in-a-box McSweeney's. The elegant memoirist Patricia Hampl wanders through a minefield of memory, mother, and the meaning of writing. In fact, much of the writing collected here reflects on writing: Seamus Heaney asks, "What good is poetry?" and Beth Ann Fennelly reveals "the irony of metaphor: / you are closest to something / when naming what it is not." Not much has been left unnamed in 25 years of defiantly brainy story-mongering. --Claire Dederer

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Title: The Pushcart Prize XXV: Best of the Small ...
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