The Pushcart Prize


Winner of the Publishers Weekly Carey-Thomas Award, selected many times as an "outstanding book of the year" by the New York Times Book Review, and chosen for two Book-of-the-Month-Club QPBC selections, the annual Pushcart Prize sets the standard of excellence for literary anthologies. Picking from thousands of nominations, each year it presents the most distinguished short stories, essays, and poetry first published by small presses and magazines nationwide, and each year it is hailed as a touchstone of literary discovery.

"The single best measure of the state of affairs in American literature today." - New York Times Book Review

From Entertainment Weekly, May 27, 1994 - "Wildly Coyote"
In Pedro Almodovar's just-released Kika, Peter Coyote plays an American novelist adrift in Spain whose new book, A Lesbian Killer, may be all too autobiographical. And in Roman Polanski's recent Bitter Moon, Coyote portrays another Hemingway-come-lately, writing his unpublishable prose in present-day Paris.

The 52-year-old actor didn't set out to corner the foreign-film market on expatriate writers. But he certainly came to these roles well prepared: Coyote, whose filmography includes E.T. and Jagged Edge, started out as a poet. He's now writing his memoirs. "Carla's Story," a chapter from the work-in-progress, earned a coveted place in the latest Pushcart Prize literary anthology as part of the "Best of the Small Presses" Pushcart award it won last year. "I've always been a writer," Coyote says in a hotel interview in Manhattan, where he's promoting Kika. "Acting is the way I make my living."

In "Carla's Story," which begins on a Northern California commune in 1968, Coyote displays a fluid prose style, a keen narrative sense - and lots of personal experience. The air of seedy dissipation he brings to this latest movie roles clearly owes something to his years in the counterculture. Of the memoirs, which he has titled The Free-Fall Chronicles, Coyote says, "It's a hard but fair appraisal of what the pursuit of absolute freedom feels like and what you learn from it."

Coyote's own pursuit of freedom earned him three bouts of hepatitis - at least two brought on by shooting heroin and methedrine with dirty needles. Nowadays he lives a relatively quiet life in Mill Valley, California, writing every day and spending time with his nine-year-old son, who lives nearby. The actor and his wife are separated.

"The terrible thing about being an actor is that it's not a solo occupation," says Coyote, who tends to go long stretches between roles. "Writing is something I can do by myself."

From San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/9/94:
"Peter Coyote says it's 'really embarrassing' that he's playing terrible hack writers in both Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon and Pedro Almodovar's upcoming Kika - considering he recently won the Pushcart Prize for literary excellence (other winners include Saul Bellow, Raymond Carver and John Updike). 'I was a writer abefore I was an actor so I hate being typecast as a bad writer,' says Coyote with a laugh."

From Newsday, 3/22/94:
"Actor Peter Coyote who opened last week in Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon is halfway through rewrites of a serious novel about Haight-Ashbury and the '60s, he says. How serious? Coyote just won a Pushcart Prize for one of the best short stories of the year. (This is one one of those prizes writers would sell their souls for - and along comes an actor to steal it away. Very unusual.) The novel is to be called "The Free-Fall Chronicles." The short story, "Carla's Story," about a 16-year-old orphan girl is a chapter from the book. It was originally published in a small West Coast literary magazine, but will be seen more widely later this year when the annual anthology of 1993 Pushcart Prize winners is published."

Deseret News, 3/23/94:
"Peter Coyote is not satisfied just to be a movie actor, currently starring in Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon. He has his sights set on a serious career as a writer and has just won the Pushcart Prize for "Carla's Story" as one of the best short stories of the year. It will be a chapter in his novel-in-progress, The Free-Fall Chronicles, which is about San Francisco's troubled Haight Ashbury district in the 1960s. "Carla's Story"" about a 16-year-old orphan, originally was published in a small literary magazine but will soon republished in the Pushcart anthology of top short stories."

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