June 11, 2019

 A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2019.

At the Oxford American, we receive many pitches for stories in the category of “pilgrimages,” or “literary road trips,” or “retracing X’s steps.” I understand the appeal: the traveler can see with her own eyes what inspired her heroes, place a work of art or literature in its proper context, imagine an artist’s life were he still living today.

 

June 11, 2019

A commemoration of the No Tears Suite from the Summer 2019 issue

I hadn’t been to Little Rock until the performance, and to be able to go to the museum across the street, to be reminded with videos how horrific that moment was, to actually play in that school, that was deep. To know that this is something that’s so heavy, something we’re still going through, even. To be there in the same town, on the same block, in the exact same building and onstage, in that beautiful auditorium. It was an emotional time.

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

Much of what they’d tell me next was legend—tall tales, rumors, exaggerations. Perry Martin adopted an orphan girl he found on the riverside, raised her up as his own, paid her way through college. He killed nine people, or eleven, or a dozen. One of his alleged victims was his own stepson: the younger man had rocked a boat they shared too violently, which angered Martin. Apparently, despite his life along the river, this outlaw did not know how to swim.

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

As an evangelist, I have showed “Miracles” to many people by lying about what it’s actually about. Generally, I describe it as a sort of joke, a curiosity. I don’t tell folks that when I first heard Frierson sing about being “only human” I was lonely and confused, and I listened to it so much that the music morphed into a personal manifesto about redemption, as if he had boiled down the obsessive and impossible task of purity into a formula. On first listen, how I feel about “Miracles” would seem ridiculous. 

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

I have wanted to visit this house for years. Like many North Carolina kids, I grew up with the broad strokes of Thomas Wolfe’s story, the prolific, small-town genius who became one of the most revered writers of his generation. I lived in North Carolina for most of my life, but I never took the opportunity to visit. Not enough money, not enough time, too much to do: that’s an old story, I know, and a true one. It is also true that we seldom value the places where we live, not enough anyway.

June 11, 2019

A Points South essay from the Summer 2019 issue

In 2007, the fossil remains of a severely disabled prehistoric man were uncovered in what is now Vietnam. The skeleton revealed the fused vertebrae and weak bones characteristic of a congenital disease called Klippel-Feil syndrome. The man was a quadriplegic, unable to feed himself or keep himself clean, and yet he survived to adulthood—during the Stone Age, mind you—because others in his community took care of him.

June 11, 2019

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.

Costumes transform their bar into a theatrical production, Feizal said to me that day in the jungle room. “You watch someone put on a Big Bird suit and then you ask, what will the Big Bird do? You give two banana costumes to two guys and then stand back to watch what happens. Pretty soon the dude at the bar in the banana costume sees the dude in the booth in the banana costume. They hug. And they start buying each other drinks.”

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

In the Tampa exurbs, splashed across the side of a half-occupied strip mall, is a vast mural depicting the Victorian art critic-cum-philosopher-cum-political economist-cum-painter-cum-social reformer John Ruskin. He gazes out at an expanse of concrete and asphalt, most of his jaw coated in white paint to conceal an underlying scrawl of graffiti. It seems like a high-brow joke, to paint one of the nineteenth century’s leading critics of capitalism and industrialization to preside over a hollowed-out commercial landscape of accountants’ offices, pet grooming businesses, and laundromats.

July 22, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

Today we think of the fight for educational equality as being a national story, one involving a progressive Supreme Court, a reluctant president, and a recalcitrant governor in Arkansas, but the struggle was fueled by black parents and teachers and students across the country. It depended upon women like Laura and teachers like Carl and patriarchs like Isaac who labored across generations to reset their children’s future.

June 11, 2019

A Southern Journey from the Summer 2019 issue. 

He began the letter by asking Larry to cremate him and scatter his ashes next to his second wife’s ashes at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key, Florida, “approximately 75 yards from end of road, then straight out to the beach . . . where lovey’s ashes were scattered.” Then, Tom addressed the business of his art. “Now Larry,” the letter read. “I know you don’t know shit about art but DO NOT destroy my work.”

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