The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why Louie Is Like Great Literature

Tasha Golden is on vacation from the blog this week, so covering for her on the Round-Down today is the writer Gila Lyons. Gila’s work has appeared in Salon, The Millions, The Morning News, Tablet, The Forward, The NY Press, The Faster Times, The Berkshire Review, and other publications. She lives in Boston, where she writes and teaches writing. —Andrew Ladd, blog editor

By Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ewer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ewer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Critics and journalists love to proclaim Louis C.K. the best comedian alive. They have much to say about his sharp wisdom and existential dilemmas—but few have discussed the relevance of his work to writers. Yet the fourth season of Louie, which began last month, has much in common with today’s great writing.

At times Louie is like a Lydia Davis collection, full of odd-shaped stories of varying sizes—some full-length episodes, some tiny three-minute segments. At other times it’s like the punchy vulgar version of Kathleen Norris’ Dakota, whose stand-alone narrative chapters are punctuated with poetic “weather reports,” as Louis’s plot-driven episodes are book-ended with stand-up bits. The material of some episodes are mundane like Evan Connell’s glimpses-of-life novel, Mrs. Bridge—Louis lying in bed eating ice cream watching the news, Louis picking up his daughters from school; some are surrealistic and Kafka-esque—Louis, riding the bus alone on New Year’s Eve, comes face to face with the woman he’s been missing, and as they begin their smiley hellos blood pours from her nose and she dies. Louie is in turns microfiction, magic realism, Avant-garde, lyric essay, short story, and poem. He is Aimee Bender, John D’Agata, Raymond Carver, Samuel Beckett, Lorrie Moore.

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Awards to Ploughshares Writers

Our congratulations to the following Ploughshares writers who work has been selected for these anthologies:

the o. henry prize stories 2013Best Stories: Jamie Quatro’s story “Sinkhole,” from the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, will appear in O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, selected by a prize jury of Lauren Groff, Edith Pearlman, and Jim Shepard. The anthology is due out September 2013, with Laura Furman as the series editor.

Best Stories Notables: Steve Almond’s story “Gondwana,” Matthew Neill Null’s story “Telemetry,” Timothy Schaffert’s Ploughshares Solo “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet,” and Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Ploughshares Solo “Phoenix” were named as notables by The Best American Stories 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Elizabeth Strout as the guest editor and Heidi Pitlor as the series editor.

Best Essays: Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, has been selected for The Best American Essays 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Cheryl Strayed as the guest editor and Robert Atwan as the series editor.

bae2013Best Essays Notables: Mary Gordon’s essay “The Taste of Almonds,” was named as a notable by The Best American Essays 2013.

Best Poetry:  Major Jackson’s poem “Why I Write Poetry,” from the  Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, has been selected for The Best American Poetry 2013. The anthology was released in September 2013, with Denise Duhamel as the guest editor and David Lehman as the series editor.

Pushcart: Eric Fair’s essay “Consequence” and Claudia Rankine’s poem “Excerpt from That Once Were Beautiful Children,” which both appeared in the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, and Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, have been selected for The Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses, which is due out November 2013 from Bill Henderson’s Pushcart Press.

 

More Pushcart Prize Nominees

Pushcart Prize 2013In December we announced our nominees for the Pushcart Prize, as seen in the 2012 issues of Ploughshares. Last week, we received a list of further nominations of poetry and prose published in 2012 in Ploughshares.

Good luck to all the nominees!

Fiction

“Gondwana” by Steve Almond, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“Dog” by Mark Slouka, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“Grace” by Joshua Howes, from Ploughshares Winter 2012-13, guest-edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles

“Come the Revolution” by Emily Torzs, from Ploughshares Winter 2012-13, guest-edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles

Nonfiction

“Consequence” by Eric Fair, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“What Happens in Hell” by Charles Baxter, from Ploughshares Fall 2012, guest-edited by Patricia Hampl

“The Taste of Almonds” by Mary Gordon, from Ploughshares Fall 2012, guest-edited by Patricia Hampl

“Myself on High” by Ralph James Savarese, from Ploughshares Fall 2012, guest-edited by Patricia Hampl

Poetry

“Lines on the Pathetic Fallacy” by Joel Brouwer, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“‘The boss wears a white vest…’” by Victoria Chang, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“Why I Write Poetry” by Major Jackson, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

Excerpt from “That Once Were Beautiful Children” by Claudia Rankine, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“We Dance on a Spinning Log” by John Rybicki, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“The Big Sleep” by James Tolan, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

From “Small Porcelain Head” by Allison Benis White, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“Please Alice Notely Tell Me How to Be Old” by Rachel Zucker, from Ploughshares Spring 2012, guest-edited by Nick Flynn

“Two Weeks” by Valerie Bandura, from Ploughshares Winter 2012-13, guest-edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles

“A Story Can Change Your Life” by Peter Everwine, from Ploughshares Winter 2012-13, guest-edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles

“Volunteer” by Nance Van Winckel, from Ploughshares Winter 2012-13, guest-edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles