From Publishers Weekly
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.)
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The Pushcart Prize collections provide an invaluable record of the most artistic facet of American letters, while editor Bill Henderson’s introductory essays, or what he calls his “annual sermon,” succinctly critique the ups and downs of the publishing world, which is taking its hits along with every other pillar of civilization in the current financial crisis. But Pushcart, a hands-on and sustainable endeavor (Henderson affectionately refers to it as a “funky little commune”), continues to support and celebrate the fruits of small presses and the so-called little literary magazines, considering more than 7,000 entries as they built this year’s brimming, vibrant anthology, the perfect introduction to new writers and adventurous new work by established writers. This particular gathering is extraordinary in its range of voices and subjects, and in the contributors’ passion for language, story, and hidden truths. Here are poets undaunted, including Sallie Tisdale and Paisley Rekdal; daring fiction writers such as Richard Powers and Brock Clarke; and deeply inquisitive essayists, among them Ginger Strand and Lia Purpura. Here is literature to have and to hold. --Donna Seaman