I don’t subscribe to a lot of periodicals because I don’t have time to read them. But I’ll always keep my subscription to The Oxford American. The magazine has been around a long time, gone through a lot of reversals and revivals, and still has some of the best writing done in America. Honest, gritty, Southern writing in the tradition of people like William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Zora Neal Hurston, and Tennessee Williams. Roy Blount, Jr. has a monthly column, and a recent issue had a memoir piece by Ernest Gaines that made me go out and get A Lesson Before Dying, which for some reason I’d never read. It is, of course, a masterpiece.
The magazine is worth the subscription just for calling attention to great American writers, but it comes with an added bonus that makes it too good to pass up. Once a year, they devote an entire issue to music and include a special CD. This year it was a two-CD set — a compilation of great musical artists that you can’t get anywhere else. The CD alone is worth the price of the subscription, and the accompanying issue has fascinating in-depth stories of the featured music.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not getting a discount on my subscription for mentioning The Oxford American. I just think that every writer has an obligation to recognize good writing wherever they find it. Recognize it and encourage it and advance it. So if you like writing that’s wise, funny, and close to the bone, give a look at some of the online articles from the music issue.