Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Oxford American editor Roger Hodge shares plan

Posted By on Wed, Sep 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Oxford American editor Roger Hodge image
  • Via an Oxford American video
  • Oxford American editor Roger Hodge

Roger Hodge, the new editor of the Oxford American magazine, spoke to a full crowd tonight at the Clinton School. With prompts from moderator Jay Jennings, he talked about his time at Harper's, where he spent much of his professional career, "clawing his way to the top" from an intern in 1996 to editor, a position he held from 2006 until 2010. Lewis Lapham, long time editor of Harper's had been a mentor, he said, imparting to him the "importance and sancity and the power of the first person singular." Which I think means he believes in empowering writers (Lapham has used the first-person singular line before, including in his praise for Hodge in the OA release). Inspired by working at Harper's along with "a group of people who...have now taken over magazines," including Mother Jones co-editor Clara Jeffrey, GQ editor Jim Nelson and Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein, he said he hopes to foster a similar culture, where talented, if often unproven, editors and writers can flourish.

Later, after a question from someone in the crowd about the ownership structure of Harper's, he joked that he wasn't going to say anything bad about Rick MacArthur, the publisher and primary benefactor of Harper's who fired Hodge in 2010, if that's what the questioner was after. (He's been more candid elsewhere.) He also sidestepped an opportunity to be critical of his predecessor, Marc Smirnoff, when asked what he didn't like about the magazine, saying things like every editor does things differently, that he "will enter into a conversation with the traditions of this magazine with the same amount of respect I expect our writers to approach their material" and that an editor should be a coach, not a dictator. Adding more character- and narrative-focused literary journalism is a priority, he said.

Left up to him, the magazine wouldn't increase frequency beyond a quarterly. He covered all of his bases on the "is web the future of magazines?" question, embracing the likelihood of some ever-evolving, not-yet-imagined technology as the true future of magazines and talking of his love for gadgets, while expressing his fondness for the physicality of printed magazines, but noting how environmentally devastating they can be. He was less convincing when talking about the place of long-form literary journalism in a world driven by social media: "Social media is a fad. In some form its going to continue just like everything else that comes along continues, but the enthusiasm that people have for it is going to abate... Eventually you're going to have to nourish your soul, and I'm sorry, but 140 characters isn't enough." Social media and long-form journalism or fiction aren't necessarily, or even often, oppositional forces, I'd argue. They're complementary.

Though he's spent most of his adult life in New York, he has Southern bona fides. His family has been ranching in southwest Texas since the 1880s. And Texas, he said, is obviously Southern, "culturally, historically, politically." He went to college at Sewanee, The University of the South. His great-great-great grandfather was born in Tennessee. Kudzu grew all the way up to his grandmother's porch. Andrew Lytle taught him to drink bourbon. Most of that came in response to a question about his relationship with the South, though I suspect he has anecdotes at the ready for those who would criticize his CV as not sufficiently Southern (charges lamely leveled at Smirnoff and publisher Warwick Sabin in the past).

While I suspect the OA has survived at least partly on the largess of people who see it as vehicle for preserving and promoting the South, but care little of it beyond what it symbolizes on their coffee table, I'm hopeful that Hodge mostly ignores issues of Southern identity and the rah-rah South stuff. It's boring and terribly limiting. There are many more great stories to be found that happen to be set in the South than there are great stories about the South. I say this, in full disclosure, as someone who worked at the magazine almost a decade ago.

I asked Hodge about commuting to Conway, which was noted in an initial New York Times piece on his hiring. He said he has a very-strong willed family with a teen-aged son in a strong arts school in Manhattan and on the varsity soccer team and suggested that his wife might be hesistant to move, though he joked, "I think when I bring her down here and you all go to work on her, we can get something done." He plans to be in the office often, he said, but will also work remotely.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

  • State Police issues statement on Jason Rapert 'threats'

    The State Police have issued a minor clarification in what appears to be an effort to soothe an enraged Sen. Jason Rapert, exposed here as overly excited about both a Conway parking lot question from a constituent as well as some inflammatory Internet rhetoric that he's interpreted as a dire threat on his life. State cops took his reports seriously, they say. But in the end, they found nothing actionable.
    • Sep 15, 2015
  • UPDATE: Judge rethinking punishment for attorneys in insurance settlement case

    Judge P.K. Holmes is rethinking whether lawyers deserve punishment in a class action lawsuit against an insurance company abruptly pulled from his court after pending more than a year and then quickly settled in a state court.
    • Jun 24, 2016
  • Transgender electrician may sue employer over her firing

    Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright has ruled that Patricia Dawson, a transgender woman, may pursue her lawsuit that she was wrongfully fired by her employer, H & H Electric, because of her sex.
    • Sep 16, 2015

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • Lee's lawyer writes about executed man's last hours

    Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation