Oliver's work has appeared in The American Prospect, The Believer, BookForum, Marie Claire, Men's Health, The Morning News, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Salon, and elsewhere.
These are some of the stories he likes best.
"The Lifeguard"—Men's Health
"Most suicide interventions here are resolved, one way or another, in 15 minutes. This one went on for 8 hours. Even today, no one who works the bridge remembers anything like it. In fact, ask people who were there and they’ll tell you it was a career high point, an epic struggle between light on one side and darkness on the other. The very goddamn thing every good cop signs up for in the first place."
"The Redemption of Royal Holmes"—Men's Health
"At night the beasts stir. Rapping, screaming, banging. Someone wants you to know he's ready to kill himself. Someone else beats on your wall all night -- you never learn why. The very walls themselves are inscribed with a thousand voices, frayed bits of failing code from men long unraveled: Bible scripture, racist credos, gang boasts, witless epitaphs. That's the hole. You lie there now, at the bottom of the world. Your name is Royal Holmes."
"The Master and Mike Dimeglio"—Tin House
He was young, confused, and longing for direction. Then, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity suddenly presented itself: to spend ten years studying the dying art of white crane kung fu on a remote mountaintop, with a genuine kung fu master.
An Utne Reader selection, Jan/Feb 2012
"The Death and Life of Nick Chisholm"—Men's Health
A decade ago, he lay in his hospital bed, unable to move but alert enough to overhear doctors telling his family he wouldn't survive. That made him angry. Angry enough, in fact, to prove them wrong.
"Dead Man Driving"—Men's Health
Car crashes happen to other guys, right? Maybe they don't have your quick reaction time or uncanny ability to multitask behind the wheel. Or maybe they're simply lesser drivers. If you believe that, let us introduce you to Adam LaBar, 1970-2008. We suspect you'll recognize him. We hope you'll learn from him.
Now required reading at the FBI Academy in Quantico, and a 2009 National Magazine Award Finalist.
“Kill All Superheroes"—The Believer
Going undercover at an Anarchist training camp. Discussed: Intensive Workshops in Urban Street Tactics, Rental-Car Insurance Fear-Mongering, Permaculture Educators, Time-Sharing with the Pagans, Confused Middlebury Students, Moldy Pumas, Republican Matron Hair, Rumpy Pumpkin Butt.
"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Biceps"—Men's Health
These men, and others like them, have started a muscle revolution in Afghanistan. Their thinking: If they can build their bodies, then maybe -- just maybe -- they can rebuild their nation.
"Revenge of the Nerds"—Mother Jones
An inside look at the teenage subculture that spawned JFK, Bob Shrum, Michael Moore, Karl Rove, and…Brad Pitt?