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, and you can read it online and decide for yourself if it’s true or not. 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.