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The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012

From the Berkshires to the Cascades, we’ve crunched the numbers and pulled a list some of the most interesting spots around the country

The narrow-gauge Durango & Silverton train steams through history above the Animas River. (Photo by Scott DW Smith.)
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20. Oxford, MS

Oxford, MS
(Don Smetzer / Alamy)
Named in honor of the British university, Oxford prides itself on being an intellectual oasis, home of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). William Faulkner, who grew up in Oxford and modeled his fictional Yoknapatawpha County on his home, is everywhere. His family house, Rowan Oak, offers tours and showcases Faulkner’s liquor cabinet, including his metal mint julep cup. J.E. Neilson’s department store on the town square has a framed note from the cantankerous author responding to an overdue bill statement. The literary legacy has led to a renaissance of independent bookstores, including the Mississippi landmark Square Books, which showcases the state’s most famous writers, including Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams and John Grisham. Two annual conferences, the spring Oxford Conference for the Book and July’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, bring even more writers to town. The other arts are far from neglected; the Oxford Film and Music Festivals in February, plus the town’s proximity to Memphis and Nashville, keep Oxford on the circuit for popular and cutting-edge productions and performers. -- AS

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