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Issue 97, Summer 2017. Cover: “Cutlass with iPod” by Cheryl Kelley.


Introducing our Summer 2017 issue


The Oxford American’s twenty-fifth anniversary continues with the magazine’s 97th issue, presenting a collection of powerful and surprising stories and images by more than thirty-five writers and artists. For the second year in a row, the magazine’s summer issue contains a themed “Southern Journeys” section, with essays and dispatches from across the region. 

Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward, Jamie Quatro, Harrison Scott Key, Michael Parker, John O’Connor, and Roger D. Hodge. Plus: short stories from rising fiction writers Van Diamondfinger and Gothataone Moeng—and much more. The cover painting is “Cutlass with iPod” (2012), by Cheryl Kelley.

Read Eliza Borné’s editor’s letter, “Taking Off,” and view the complete Table of Contents.

Preorder a copy for yourself and a friend

 “I cannot explain what happened next, except to say that if one grows up watching The Dukes of Hazzard, one possesses in the heart a belief in the real possibility of being airborne in an American-made sedan.”

Harrison Scott Key, “The Hellhound of Boligee”

“My childhood ended when I was twelve years old. Not so much because I began sampling my father’s liquor, but because that year I went to work, in the summer after seventh grade.

Roger D. Hodge, “Cowboys and Indians”

“Ithe morning, woken by the two gunshots, I heard the rising flurry of ululations that followed and knew immediately that I would go to the wedding, no matter what my mother said or did.

Gothataone Moeng, “Botalaote Hill”

So, there are hitchhikers, and there are the people who pick up hitchhikers, and they form a community—sometimes.

Joel Finsel, “Set Forth”

He was just tall enough that when he hugged me, his chin rested on my head, and I was cupped under him. Like I belonged. Because I wanted Michael’s mouth on me, because from the first moment I saw him walking across the grass to where I sat in the shadow of the school sign, he saw me. Saw past skin the color of unmilked coffee, eyes black, lips the color of plums, and saw me. Saw the walking wound I was, and came to be my balm.

Jesmyn Ward, “Cut”

“The dryer barely spoke at all, and then with some difficulty. We had both been born in the old world where things spoke little and only to the point and had little plastic buttons that clicked and men and women matched their own socks and didn’t talk much either. He spoke simply and plainly, without the burden of understanding or intelligence.”

Van Diamondfinger, “The Domestic Front”

“That Gulf Feeling soon overtook us—salt air, open sky, the expansive promise of water just out of sight. After we left the fort and traveled closer to the End of the World, we saw more and more skeleton trees; oil and gas industry infrastructure; our state bird, the brown pelican, coasting low over the marsh and commercial fishing marinas; our other state bird, the helicopter, running supplies to the oil rigs out in the Gulf.”

Anne Gisleson, “The Beautiful Hunt”

“The division among denominations, the violence of church history, the injustices and oppression of women and minorities, the absolutely impossible-to-keep rules—why not join the rest of the enlightened world and give it up? I wish I could. It’s not for lack of trying.”

Jamie Quatro, “Speed Away”

“These days—as the weather everywhere grows steadily stranger, storms stronger, seas higher—I worry about the Outer Banks, surrounded by water and just barely above the waves. What does it mean to be from, and of, one of the most vulnerable places on Earth?”

Molly McArdle, “A Disappearing Pile of Sand”

“Immigrants are active Southerners. They choose to live here, to raise families, to grow businesses. Despite unfavorable odds that may, in this new age of American isolation, temporarily thwart innovation, active Southerners are reinventing the region.”

John T. Edge, “An Active Authenticity”

“Photographing inside Blodgett Homes, now refurbished as Blodgett Villas, Johanne Rahaman sees every homemaker as a curator of family lore. In one home, sacred mementos and pictures are scrupulously arranged on walls, tables, and mantels—a private gallery shielding the family and their stories, their legacies, from the injustice outside, deflating and opposing the adverse gaze of others.”

Sarah Stacke, “Documenting Blodgett Homes”

“The flourish with which a magician produces a fanned deck of cards is matched by a chef unveiling his creation amid swirls of steam. Tableside flambé is as dramatic as a vanishing elephant. Houdini was not a good magician, but he excelled at showmanship. The same is true of certain celebrity chefs as well.”

Chris Offutt, “Magic Banana”

“She understood why people might wonder not only how a blind woman managed to get on all by herself in this world but specifically how she managed to make a living selling Nabs and peanuts and Sprites to a clientele most likely to cheat her out of an honest buck: judges, lawyers, felons, and their long-suffering kin.”

Michael Parker, “Concession”

“Let the moth muster some enthusiasm / for the streetlight. Let the tap run cold. // Let the laundry lie limp on the line. Let indigo / bruise the hillside. Let dust-stung and withered.”

Traci Brimhall, “Lullaby at 102˚

If you read it a couple of times, trying to ascertain some kind of narrative structure, you may get the impression that McPhee is simply peeling an orange, circling his subject and handing out segments of the beauty and contradiction contained within.

Wyatt Williams, “After Oranges”

Although some Food Network stooge would surely find the One Stop eventually, for the moment it lacked any officious culinary sanction, which seemed important. Joann was cooking for her neighbors, sawdust clinging to some of them, others redolent of fish slime and beer and gasoline, excepting the ladies of course, painted up ferociously in brilliant crimsons and blues.

John O’Connor, “Georgetown One Stop”

“If you are the type whose eyes get caught on beautiful things, you might find, should you be lucky enough to see inside a freshwater mussel, that your gaze will linger on the smooth, nacreous basins of its upturned shell.”

Holly Haworth, “The Soft Things”

Issue 97 is on newsstands nationwide on June 13.

Subscriber copies are already on the way.

Oxford American

From the editors of the Oxford American.