Pushcart 2012: Finis

I’ve come to the end of the Pushcart volume, and it’s time to move on – and just in time, since I picked up my copy of the PEN/O.Henry 2012 Prize Stories 2012 this week… but that’s another post.

Yes, I’ve completed the 2012 Pushcart volume (which some call the 2011 volume, but it says right on the cover “2012” even though prizes are announced in 2011 and the book is published in 2011 and includes stories published in 2010… are you still with me?). I didn’t comment on the essays, didn’t read them all for that matter, but quite enjoyed “Logophilia” by B. H. Fairchild and Anis Shivani’s “The MFA/Creative Writing System is a Closed, Undemocratic, Medieval Guild System That Represses Good Writing.” No, I’m not editorializing, that’s the actual title. This article made the rounds of writing workshops at the time it was published; it was very popular, particularly with those who (like me) don’t have MFAs. I, however, respect degrees, titles, and all manner of authority, so I am automatically impressed and intimidated by MFAs; this blog was started, in part, as an effort to educate myself, a sort of do-it-yourself MFA. I don’t think that makes me closed and undemocratic, and I’m certainly not medieval. I hope.

I was a little skeptical when I reviewed the Table of Contents back At The Beginning, because, while I was very happy to see two selections from One Story, a couple of other stories I’d already read were not my favorites. I do think this volume wasn’t as terrific as last year’s, but that could be because last year was my virgin experience with reading Pushcart cover to cover.

Which isn’t to say XXXVI wasn’t worth reading. On the contrary. And this time I looked at the poetry as well, which was fun, even though I know little about poetry.

My favorites? Mazzini’s “That Winter,” “How To Fall In Love Properly”
by Julian Gough, and Celeste Ng’s “Girls, At Play.” Those were my A-plus-list. My A-list included most of what’s left. Only a couple of newly-read stories were disappointing to me: “Father Olufemi” so distressed me, for its unfulfilled potential, I actually requested a consult from Aaron Riccio, who frequently reads A Public Space and, I figured, could tell me what I was missing if anyone could. Turns out, he pretty much agreed with me. I also found “The Ballad Of Mushie Momzer” to be downright annoying, which is pretty unusual, but I think that’s more a matter of my particular taste. I just don’t have the right sense of humor to appreciate it.

But you know what? I can’t wait ’til November, when I get to start all over again.

5 responses to “Pushcart 2012: Finis

  1. Wow, congratulations on getting all the way through! Seems like there should be a literary merit badge or something associated with the accomplishment. I’m only 1/3 or so through the volume myself & just finished “Mushie Momzer,” which I found ugly but also oddly riveting.

    • Hi Naomi – what a great idea, literary merit badges – something like letter sweaters for adults, or maybe more like military patches for civilians. Complete with battle ribbons for writer’s acceptances and rejections… 😉

      “Ugly but oddly riveting” is a great description of “Mushie” – the story itself moved right along, didn’t it, but the ugly just did me in. Feel free to comment on any other stories any time – agree, disagree, show me where I missed something (especially that) – all’s fair.

  2. Oh, boy. Maybe I’ll join you to go through Pen/O. Henry 2012, though when I was deciding whether or not to pick up a copy, I noted that one of the stories was John Berger’s “A Brush,” which is to date my least favorite story ever. (http://thatsoundscool.blogspot.com/2010/08/short-day-john-bergers-brush.html)

    I’ll be requesting a consult from you on this one! And I’ll probably give it another shot . . . I’ve been meaning to revisit stories now that I’ve been writing about them, and this anthology gives me as good an excuse as any.

    • That’d be great, Aaron, to have company on the PEN/O.Henry – I was looking through it the other day, just getting started with the Intro, TOC and contributor notes to prime the pump, and I’m really excited about it, and now even more so – what a great lure, your least favorite story ever (I’m kind of perverse that way). That’s how I felt about Wells Tower’s “Raw Water” so I read his collection (I’m perverse that way, too, but I figured based on others’ comments he had to be better than “Raw Water”) and the title story, “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” turned out to be one of my favorites ever. Unfortunately, it also works in reverse, as I’m discovering right now. But that’s yet another post. 😉

  3. Pingback: Annual Reading of the Pushcart Starts in January | A Just Recompense

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