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The OA Picks the Best of the South

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The Spring 2006 issue of the Oxford American examines the Best of the South. Much more than a simple recitation of the same old tired things we hear about all the time, the OA writers turn in odes to some of their favorite things. Food expert John T. Edge (who was featured as a judge on a re-run of Iron Chef this past weekend) pays tribute to some of the folks who make the South’s tastiest dishes. Michael Martone sings the ballad of the Moon Winx Lodge sign. Bobbie Ann Mason describes a peculiar group of sixteen statues in her hometown cemetery. And on and on.

As usual, the OA features some fine short stories. Here’s the opening shot from Jakob Loomis, a short story by Jason Ockert:

Therm is in the woodshed rubbing gasoline on his bloodstained sneakers when he sees a handcuffed man break from the woods and amble toward the house. Hefting an axe, Therm calls out, and the man, surprised, arms defeated behind his back, freezes.

The men consider each other over the short distance of semi-mowed backyard lawn in the cool pre-rain breeze. The mower hunkers to the bloodied ground between the woodshed and the house. For a moment the men feel the weight of their guilt, and then the moment breaks.

And William Caverlee offers up Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find as potentially the best Southern short story ever. His examination of the story, which we all seem to know by heart, manages to reveal new and interesting aspects of this classic.