Pushcart Prize Still Going Strong, Except…

by Bill Henderson

No Electronic Submissions, Please. We’re Luddites

Pushcart PrizeThe Pushcart Prize XXXVI: Best of the Small Presses (2012 Edition) is out, and once again promises all kinds of special treats for readers, particularly fiction readers. Fine work they would possibly never encounter were they to rely solely on The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and the few other major outlets for short stories.

On Amazon the listing has a small box containing this: “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on a Kindle.” I had to laugh, ironically, when I saw that. In fact, nothing from Pushcart will ever be seen on a Kindle if the publisher––whose name, by coincidence, is the same as mine, “Bill Henderson”––has his way.

What’s up with that? In an essay in in Luna Park: on Literary Magaines, editor Travis Kurowski lays out a view similar to the one I hold. Both of us laud Bill Henderson for giving us The Pushcart Press. There’s no doubt Henderson came along at a time when a viable alternative to corporatized publication was sorely needed. But when the “digital revolution” began to change the world as we know it, rather than catch that wave and ride it, he let it break on his head.

I first became aware of this when, back in the 90s, he declared himself to be in reaction to the trending future by asserting that writers should stick to old-tech, pencil and paper, and not get sucked into the electronic maws of word processing and the Internet. In 1994, he published The Minutes of the Lead Pencil Club, a collection of short pieces he solicited from writers who felt as he did. If you try hard enough you can still find a copy.

Rather than lay into it in this post, let me direct you, if you want to know more, to an article I’ve posted here. “Note to Pushcart’s Bill Henderson – Get the Lead Out of the Future” will give you a late 1990s glimpse of some writers, and a major editor, frozen with anxiety and frustration, as a future they don’t understand begins to unfold around them.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sandy Smidth February 22, 2012 at 11:30 am

May be we should write a book about archaic man with him as the main character, if you get my drift.

2 Bill Henderson April 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I think he’s already done it. If you get mine.

3 Thomas Derry June 12, 2012 at 11:42 am

Saying we shouldn’t use the latest technology is like saying we should have never used the printing press, or, for that matter, the pencil! Anything that improves on the status quo can be considered “technology”.

4 Bill Henderson June 25, 2012 at 7:19 am

True. For real purity––back to the quill, or beyond.

5 amy October 29, 2012 at 10:46 am

Seeing a book u have written get published is great.

6 Tony Panama April 13, 2013 at 8:22 am

@Amy, I couldn’t agree more. Eventhough I haven’t sold a million copies, I still feel great.

7 David Sandrock June 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

I honestly prefer reading an actual book to the screen of a kindle, but I would never try to stop others from doing it. I stand for the free market!

8 David Sandrock June 9, 2013 at 7:22 am

For one, I find books more comfortable for my eyes to read than a backlighted screen of a kindle. But hey, different strokes for different folks!

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