Pushcart Prize XLIII: Best of the Small Presses 2019

Pushcart. (Prize). 2018. 599p. ed. by Bill Henderson & Pushcart Prize Eds. index. ISBN 9781888889888. $35; pap. ISBN 9781888889895. $19.95. LIT/ANTHOLOGIES
Containing 71 stories, essays, and poems from 62 presses, this latest Pushcart Prize collection delivers "a sample of the excellence out there in the worldwide universe of literary endeavor," according to editor Henderson. In C.J. Hribal's story "Do I Look Sick to You? (Notes on How To Make Love to a Cancer Patient)," a nameless father describes the care and humor needed with his cancer-stricken wife. A judge's note appears prior to Leslie Jill Patterson's "Brace Yourself," alerting readers to a story about domestic violence yet without a single scene of abuse. Contemporary politics is central to Julie Hecht's "Taco Night," in which an unnamed female character recalls an evening in November 2016 when she had tacos at the home of a local gardener to avoid watching "that thing." Entries turn historical throughout. Justin St. Germain's essay "Murder Tourism in Middle America" takes readers back to Holcomb, KS, where St. Germain is on a pilgrimage as the final edits for his book about his mother's murder are due. Hal Crowther's "Christian Soldiers" describes his personal hero, Daniel Berrigan, a 1960s radical priest and federal fugitive, whose conscience-building encouraged him to follow a harder God down a harder road.
VERDICT Once again, the Pushcart collection captures the candid dismay of life, presenting a literary snapshot of humanity.

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