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North Toward Home Paperback – August 22, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"North Toward Home is the finest evocation of an American boyhood since Mark Twain."--Sunday Times (London)

"Vivid sketches of personas and places, moments when the spirit of things is caught with affecting precision.... And...prose that is extraordinarily clean, flexible and incisive."--The New York Times Book Review

"North Toward Home is a classic."--William Styron

From the Publisher

Willie Morris always wrote from the heart and with a generosity of spirit. His first book, North Toward Home, was published to extraordinary acclaim in 1967. It was to be his signature work, a memoir on which all his other books would pivot. In North Toward Home he found his voice and discovered his identity.

This self-styled "autobiography in mid-passage" is one man's emotional journey to understanding his own southern origins while reluctantly coming to regard the North as home. As Morris chronicles his own experiences during the nineteen forties, fifties, and sixties he also explains their relationship to the larger contemporaneous trends in America.

And critics applauded. A New Republic reviewer noted that "it is this ambitious attempt to relate recent personal experience to history that gives North Toward Home its character and attraction." A writer for America went a step further. "It wasn't enough that in 1967, at the age of 32, Willie Morris became the editor of Harper's, the oldest and one of the most prestigious magazines in America. He had to compound our amazement by producing this autobiography, one of the best books of the year in any category."

To honor and remember Willie Morris' literary legacy, this book is reissued in hardcover on the sixty-fifth anniversary of his birth--November 29, 1999--as a commemorative edition of a true American classic. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (August 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375724605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375724602
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
For anyone who loves the South or wants to better understand Southerners, Willie Morris is a great, easy read. Lots of humorous stories from a rambunctious little boy's perspective. This is a book you can read to your children, and you will laugh together as Morris tells his tall tales of growing up in small town Mississippi. Willie's books are great fun and must read for those with parents who grew up in the South in the 40's and 50's.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After seeing the movie My Dog Skip, I bought this book to learn about a educated man who grew up in the South. I anticipated a recollection of why the South is great. What I read was a man recalling growing up in the South when it was a lazy, great place to grow up in. The first part of the book covers this and provided a perfect synopsis for the movie, My Dog Skip.
The second part of the book covers his time in Texas where he attended college and stayed to become an editor of a local liberal paper. He also was the school paper editor who became famous for his liberal stances taking on the administration. While this section gets long, it is the most interesting section as Morris is thrown in a foreign environment, becomes quite intimidated as many freshman do, and then grows in the process. This growth culminates in his acceptance as a Rhodes Scholar competing against many Ivy League namedroppers who once again intimidate him. He graduates and eventually writes for a liberal paper in Texas covering politics which allows him to see this magnificent state and challenge the beliefs of politicians and himself as he has grown into a full liberal in a very conservative state. Significant time is spent coloring the political landscape of the time and it's quite interesting to view this from 40 years hence. Anyone remember the John Birch Society?
The final section was an evolution as he moves to New York, goes through the humiliating first job search before he finds a low paying job working for Harpers Magazine. He describes what it's like working in New York, which he calls the "Cave", and living in substandard conditions where the sun never hits his building. He describes his first literary party and the pompous attitude of these intellectuals, particularly about the rest of the country.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Leavitt on March 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book, in the original 1967 paperback edition, about a year ago... as a work of literature, and as a work of history and autobiography, it is truly magnificent... the language and imagery is lush and evocative, funny and full of truth... I was shocked to hear that he had passed away, as I knew nothing more of him than this one book... for those of us who have a particular fascination with history as it is made, this books publication date of 1967, and the author's provenance as a progressive Southerner, give you an insight into the period, at a level of honesty that no contemporary historian, with it's veil of time and the judgement of history, could match. In this book, LBJ has not yet resigned, Vietnam is just becoming visible, and Martin Luther King Jr. and RFK are not yet dead. Read this book, and Yazoo will be forever ingrained in your mind, as will the the tragic contradictions of the pre-Civil Rights era South, the intimacy and distance between black and white and the interplay of cultures present nowhere else in the U.S.
Buy this book. You will not regret having read it. You will want to give it to your friends to read it, afterwards (or have them buy it over the web).
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on July 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
These days, people are probably more likely to know of Willie Morris as the boy in the movie, "My Dog Skip." So if anything, they know he grew up in a small town in 1940's Mississippi. They mostly wouldn't know that years later, after an education at the University of Texas, he was a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, a controversial newspaper editor in Texas, and the youngest editor of America's oldest continuously published magazine, Harper's.
Throughout his adult life he was a writer. His memoir "North Toward Home" is a recollection of a boyhood in pre-integration Mississippi, the rough and tumble of state politics which he covered for the Texas Observer, and coming to terms as a Southerner with New York City, which he liked to call "the Cave."
As a writer, Morris saw both the humor and sadness in the circumstances of daily life. He was fascinated by people and politics, and deeply committed to social justice. Growing up in the rural South, he also had a strong sense of how people are shaped by their history, traditions, and the terrain of the land they call home.
His many books include an account of school integration in his hometown in 1970, a tribute to his friend James Jones, author of "From Here to Eternity," and an account of the making of "Ghosts of Mississippi," Rob Reiner's film based on the murder trial and conviction of the man who shot Medgar Evers. One of the best introductions to Morris' style and favorite subjects is a collection of essays and exerpts from longer works, "Terrains of the Heart and Other Essays on Home," which was published in his later years and is currently in print.
A great companion volume for "North Towards Home" is "From the Mississippi Delta: A Memoir," by African-American writer Endesha Ida Mae Holland.
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