Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Willie Morris: He is Texan to me

Willie Morris was not born in Austin. He only lived here a handful of years. Those years mattered though. As an undergraduate, Morris edited The Daily Texan, shaking up a stagnant campus with fiery editorials that often found him at loggerheads with the board of regents. After a few years in Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship, Morris returned at the invitation of Ronnie Dugger to assume the editorship of The Texas Observer. He picked up right where he left off: questioning parochial politics, badgering oil and gas, and championing equality. Morris' time in Texas was short-lived. He left for New York in 1963 to join Harper's.

I recently read Morris' North Toward Home, which is his rendering of his Mississippi boyhood, Texas sojourn, and New York experiences. The book manifests the complexities of twentieth-century life. Morris wrestles with the shortcomings of his country and era, but does so with a genial approach that conveys days spent fighting followed by evenings passed on the front porch with friends. It is a great book.

Below are a few of Morris' books along with a biography.

North Toward Home

Shifting Interludes: Selected Essays

The Ghosts of Medgar Evers: a Tale of Race, Murder, Mississippi, and Hollywood

New York Days

My Dog Skip

In Search of Willie Morris: the Mercurial Life of a Legendary Writer and Editor

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