Pushcart Prize XLIV: Best of the Small Presses

Pushcart. 2019. 600p. ed. by Bill Henderson with Pushcart Prize Eds. ISBN 9781888889956. $35; pap. ISBN 9781888889963. $19.95. LIT
Where do you want to go today? This question captures the essence of this 44th edition of the annual Pushcart collection. While a few of this year’s selected essays and fiction take readers to international locales, many are set in the United States, which, for those who have traveled the world with Pushcart, is notable. Entries of free-verse poetry enhance the anthology. Edward Hirsch’s poem “That’s the Job” describes working a grimy night shift in 100° heat, while Louise Gluck’s “An Endless Story” grapples with transformation and love. Richard Bausch’s standout story “In That Time” tells of an American boy visiting Cuba who is sent by his parents to buy a newspaper and finds himself having breakfast with Ernest Hemingway. Additional highlights include Maureen Stanton’s part memoir and part historical and global treatise on public baths, “The Human Soup,” and the late Ton Hoagland’s “The Cure for Racism Is Cancer,” an important essay on illness and medical providers. 
VERDICT  Each work shines in its own way throughout this new compilation, which upholds the standards set by preceding volumes in the series beautifully. Required reading for students, writers, and seekers of fine literature.
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