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Best of the Oxford American: Ten Years from the Southern Magazine of Good Writing Paperback – June 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hill Street Press (June 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588180816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588180810
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,228,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On May 2, 2002, editor Smirnoff sent a letter to Oxford American advertisers announcing the impending closing of the magazine due to a lack of funds to print the spring issue. On May 10, the New York Times picked up on the news with an essay entitled "A Mississippi Upstart, As It Lay Loudly Dying." The fate of the magazine is still unclear, but this collection should tide readers over for the present with its eclectic array of fiction, essays and poetry. In his introduction, Smirnoff explains the difficulty of choosing the best from a roster of writers that reads like a Who's Who of Southern Lit. After an eloquent foreword by Rick Bragg, these luminaries include William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Walker Percy, Barry Hannah, Steve Martin, John Updike, Larry Brown, Rosanne Cash, John T. Edge, Steve Yarbrough, Roy Blount Jr. and John Grisham. Of course, there are many excellent pieces: Sister Helen Prejean's "Memories of a Dead Man Walking" is as powerful as it is plainspoken; Rick Bass enchants with "Turtlemania," in which he recalls a childhood encounter with a huge snapping turtle; Donna Tartt weighs in with a moving remembrance of Willie Morris. Despite the heavyweight lineup, or perhaps because of it, the arc of the collection is predictable, but those who like their writing home style will find much to savor here.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Smirnoff introduced the Oxford American in spring 1992, arguing that it was "time for a good general magazine to originate from the South." His goals included publishing various forms of excellent writing for the intelligent, nonacademic general reader. One of the magazine's great strengths has been Smirnoff's willingness to publish largely unknown regional writers, many of whom have gone on to substantial careers. As this "best of" anthology shows, Smirnoff has successfully balanced an intriguing blend of commercial fiction (e.g., John Grisham, who underwrote the project for many years), unpublished manuscripts by Southern stalwarts (e.g., William Faulkner, Zora Neal Hurston, and Walker Percy), and commentary on Southern culture (John T. Edge, Roy Blount Jr., and Hal Crowther). Many of the selections are by noteworthy authors among them Grisham, Cythnia Shearer, Larry Brown, John Updike, John Grisham, Donna Tart, Barry Hannah, and Steve Yarbrough who have lived or set their work in Oxford, MS, the home of the Oxford American. The magazine has been both passionately praised and roundly criticized for its quirky approach to literature, and readers will probably have the same response to this well-crafted collection. Recommended for libraries with large collections of Southern literature and as demand warrants. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam Rust VINE VOICE on February 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
The idea of "the best of the Oxford American" brings out a lot of expectations. This magazine has been the home for a lot of special writing. This book provides some of those moments. I especially enjoyed the narrative of the small town photographer burdened by the unwelcome insights of his coworkers and the blank misunderstandings of his Disney World roadtripping friends. I think that the criticism by Tony Earley would have made just as good an introduction to this book as did Rick Bragg's more metaphorical observation that this writing is "heavy on the salt."
I would recommend this book for anyone that wants to read about the South as it actually is -- unique, history-addled, and genuinely "salty".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bachelier on October 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
The only element lacking in this collection are re-issues of the prized "Southern Music" CDs which appeared with the annual "Music Issue" of the Oxford American. Otherwise, for those who have not archived each issue of the magazine, this is an excellent selection.

Sadly, the Oxford American's precarious financial situation perpetually places it in the southern `lost cause' cliché. Would that some subscribers of other moribund New York-based `literary' magazines, which perpetually lurch around the elite graveyard of memory for its existence, abandon the shell and support the living, and the future. Intelligent readers will both want to own this volume, and subscribe to the Oxford American.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Grozarks on July 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The demise of The Oxford American magazine is a tragedy! Thank goodness a person can still sample its pages in this wonderful compilation of fiction, essays and reviews. Tony Earley's essay, Letter from Sister: What We Learned at the P.O., which concerns Eudora Welty's great short story, is probably the best thing in the book. It doesn't stop there however; there is a sample of John T. Edge's great writing on southern food, Hal Crowther's review of Erskine Caldwell, Donna Tartt's thoughts on Willie Morris and so much more. This book, like the old Oxford American itself, is pure bliss.

UPDATE: Spring 2005. "The Oxford American" is back!! I suggest that everyone with an interest in the American South spend some quality time with an issue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Allen on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
This collection of works--fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reportage--by the biggest names writing in or about the South is a real treasure. For those already familiar with "the New Yorker of the South" it will remind those what have made the magazine so special for so many years, and for those who have not discovered the magazine, BOA will be a great introduction to the best in Southern belles lettres. The book, like the magazine itself, is a little trad and not good on commenting on the lives of blacks, gays/lesbians, and immigrants to the South, but there is much for everyone to enjoy here.
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