Little Rock American

Oxford American

Little Rock American: It’s no secret to long-time readers of the rexblog that I’m a fan of the magazine Oxford American and its editor Marc Smirnoff. Good luck on its relaunch. It’s unfortunate, however, that the NY Times piece today included what appears to be an unnecessary back story regarding the relative merits of publishing a literary magazine in Oxford, Miss. vs. Little Rock, Ark.

In this corner, Marc Smirnoff:

“Mississippi is a unique state, a haunting state. No other state has produced as many important writers, I’m sure. On the other hand, a magazine like ours needs to thrive off high energy. Oxford, I now see more clearly, posed some dangers to us. In some ways it’s a bit of a slacker’s town. It’s easy to slack off a bit, and nobody cares.”

And in this corner, Charles Reagan Wilson, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi:

“And you have to wonder about the effect of moving from Oxford, which has an important place in the Southern imagination, to a city like Little Rock.”

It seems to me that Professor Wilson has little room to speak as he apparently has the clout and connections to have kept the Oxford American in Oxford. To an observer with no dog in the hunt, it seems that only post-southern egos are what kept the magazine from finding a more suitable home in the Magnolia State. [Oxford American website. Join me in subscribing to the Oxford American.

  • lcreekmo

    That is a fascinating little story. It coalesces much of the argument about Southern literature into a couple of graphs. What makes it Southern? Is it the place itself? The physicality of existing in the South? Something about being tied to the land? Is it something about the pace of life that is different? Or is it a spirit, a state of being?

    And, since that guy from Oxford is being so obnoxious about their having moved, I’m glad they did. Oxford clings to that notion of being the center of the Southern literary world. As if. I won’t even start.

    Having said that I’m a little worried about the new Oxford American. It was really good. I’m worried they packed a lot of effort & stuff into this one and the next issue will be puny. I hope I’m wrong.