Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013 Edition)

Bill Henderson, Editor
Edited by Bill Henderson, with the Pushcart Prize Editors. Pushcart (Norton, dist.), $35 (640p) ISBN 978-1-888889-66-6
Paperback - 595 pages - 978-1-888889-65-9
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It's been a good year at the small presses, and the 37th annual Pushcart Prize anthology is proof—much of the writing here, amassed from numerous publications, is excellent. In the stellar short fiction piece entitled "A Family Restaurant," Karen Russell describes the titular eatery's "‘WORLD-FAMOUS' FROSTY TREAT, MAMA'S DEATHBED SHERBET!;" the late Harry Crews offers a frightening bit of memoir; and Marilynne Robinson addresses the uses of narrative and sanity in her sharp essay, "On ‘Beauty.'" Barely 20 pages later, the collection takes a dramatic turn—and it is these tectonic shifts that make this compilation so alluring—to Kent Russell's headlong nonfiction dive into the bawdy and bloody world of the American Juggalo. Interspersed throughout are some wonderful poems, including Diane Suess's "Everything Is Sexual or Nothing Is," and a smattering of mostly disappointing genre fiction. As is to be expected with an anthology of this size and scope, not everything works. Some of the pieces are saccharine, others fall flat. But on the whole, Henderson and company's selections are fresh and compelling, and provide an excellent glimpse into the state of the art outside of publishing's Big Six. (Oct.)
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