Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

“Winner of $174 Million” by Norman Waksler

As 2011 ended last week, so did the deadline for claiming a $77 million lottery ticket in Georgia. Someone bought the ticket during the summer, but the prize money went unclaimed for six months. Seeing this unusual item in the newspaper brought to mind Norman Waksler’s “Winner of $174 Million,” one of the fine short stories in the premiere issue (Volume 1, Issue 1: Winter 2011) of Valparaiso Fiction Review, which was released in the beginning of December. Here is the opening of Waksler’s story:

“Winner of $174 Million”

I began playing the lottery after my ex remarried. Like any man who’s been divorced because the very virtues his wife married him for became the reasons to leave him, I’d have hated to have to share possible winnings with her. This may seem small-minded, but we were married four years and I paid support four more, so I believe I fulfilled my obligations.

Not that I ever won anything substantial. Seven dollars a few times, three now and then. Once I thought I won $150, but I had read the sequence of numbers wrong. What I was hoping for was a twelve million dollar jackpot, which, taken in one lump and after taxes, would amount to about five million or so. Depending on interest rates at the time and along with my city pension, this would generate enough money to retire, buy a small house, live in comfort, subscribe to a number of concert series and travel now and then to different cities with great and small art museums, paying as well for my woman friend Margaret (don’t call me Maggie) Fisher.

Around the corner from my apartment was Calvin’s Convenient. Ostensibly a snack food, bread, milk and sudden need store, over time it had given more than half its space to a collection of inferior wines and a surprisingly decent selection of beers and ales. So every couple of weeks I bought a six-pack of Harp Lager, and twice a week a Quick Pick lottery ticket on my way to work as Assistant City Clerk in charge of birth certificates, death records, and marriage licenses for Carbury, Mass, one of the small, densely populated cities around Boston.

Not all petty bureaucrats like me are bitter, dissatisfied individuals whose only desire is to protect their fiefs and exploit to the fullest the little power they have. I considered my quiet, orderly job both necessary and useful, an essential contribution to civil society. My salary was decent, and once I had only myself to support, even comfortable, allowing me to save, then spend moderately during vacations, buy the odd book and CD, go out to dinner, join the Museum of Fine Arts. So playing the lottery was just a two dollar a week indulgence leading to pleasant fantasies and no expectation of actually winning.

Instead, I won.

As usual, I read the paper that morning with breakfast (orange juice, French Roast coffee, muesli, whole wheat toast and strawberry jam). From childhood habit I always started with the funnies, but then I went on to the editorial page, the front page, through the major U.S. and world news and on to the Metro section where the lottery numbers were in a box on the second page.

Ordinarily I’d compare the winning numbers with my pink and white Quick Pick slip, see one, perhaps two uselessly matched numbers, accept the expected with a nod or a shrug, once in a while with a sigh.

This morning the numbers matched. All six. And below, the words and numbers: Jackpot $174,000,000. One Winner....

I encourage all to read “Winner of $174 Million” by Norman Waksler, and I urge everyone to examine the other excellent works in this initial issue of Valparaiso Fiction Review.

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