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Hired as Southern Living's original Mid-South editor, McCalla became editor in 1969 -- a position he held until his retirement in 1991. Logue jumped on the near-sinking ship in its second year of publication and hung around for the next quarter century as McCalla's right-hand man, and then as editor-in-chief of the magazine's book division, Oxmoor House. During their years at Southern Living's helm, Logue and McCalla defined the present direction of the magazine. They saw its circulation rise from a reluctant two hundred thousand -- many conscripted kicking and screaming from Progressive Farmer, Southern Living's parent magazine -- to more than three million.
Keen senses of humor firmly in place, Logue and McCalla take their work, but not themselves, seriously. They introduce the wonderfully eccentric people who edited, photographed, designed, and sold advertising for the most straightforward of magazines and offer a charming behind-the-scenes glimpse into thefrantic, never boring daily routine at Southern Living, where McCalla was famous in photographic picks for his dreaded pronouncement: "What else you got?" Or, the equally feared "What's southern about it?" They also describe what it was like to work with the many prominent writers -- all of whom became friends -- who have put pen to paper for the magazine and its book division over the years, including James Dickey, Walter Cronkite, and Mark Childress.
Although their story is an affectionate one, Logue and McCalla pull no punches. They remember conflict and pain scattered among the happier times and recollect many incidents their dear friends at Southern Living today probably wish they had forgotten. At times their narrative is serious, at times it's as zany as Barbarians at the Gate -- with Logue and McCalla in the role of the barbarians.
Fascinating business history, amusing exploration of office politics, and tender tribute, Life at "Southern Living" is, like the magazine it honors, a gift to southerners everywhere.
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