edited by Bill Henderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 6, 2018
Weighted toward the academy but, as ever, a state-of-the-genre summary of trends in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
Latest installment of the annual creative-writing anthology, now in its 43rd year.
Always a wide-open collection, the Pushcart Prize is visibly more diverse than ever; while this volume is full of the usual suspects (Robert Hass, Rick Moody, Robert Coover), it abounds in young writers of widely different backgrounds and experiences, as if to affirm contributor Brian Doyle’s lovely thought that “whatever you think you know about a person or an animal or a tree because it is a certain species or color or nativity is probably egregiously wrong.” That said, the opening piece, by the well-established novelist and essayist Pam Houston, is one of the standouts of the collection, a meditation on the passing of a dog that opens onto reflections of a life divided among town and gown (“To the people in Creede I am intelligent, suspiciously sophisticated, and elitist to the point of being absurd. To the people at UC Davis I am quaint, a little slow on the uptake, and far too earnest to even believe”). The piece closes with an elegant note on the beauty of a nature besieged by our barbarous kind. On the place front, old hippie Steve Stern recalls the Fayetteville, Arkansas, of old, as personified by the recently deceased poet C.D. Wright: “It gives me vertigo to find myself hanging about on earth in her absence.” Jessica Burstein’s story “All Politics,” a goofy exercise in improbable name-dropping dedicated to “Professor James Franco,” is nicely observed and pleasingly sardonic (“The treadmills were circa 1990s, circa Kurt Cobain, really old and without any video…”), while the winner of the great Walter Mitty moment is Sanjay Agnihatri’s “Guerrilla Marketing," which speaks quietly but urgently to the discontents of the overqualified and, yes, besieged immigrant (says the goddess Lakshmi to the protagonist, “Did you think I’d allow you to remain in debt and spend your days serving buffet lunches to ugly Americans?”).Weighted toward the academy but, as ever, a state-of-the-genre summary of trends in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018
Page Count: 620
Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.
Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Pub Date: March 10, 2015
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by J.D. Salinger ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 15, 1951
A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.
"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….A strict report, worthy of sympathy.
Pub Date: June 15, 1951
Page Count: -
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951
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