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To read this loving, loquacious, warts-and-all tribute to the famed Harper's editor and author (My Dog Skip) who died in 1999 is to be a fly on the wall at a high-spirited wake attended by literati like Norman Mailer and David Halberstam. The prolific King (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), a friend of almost 40 years who wrote for Morris at Harper's, reconciles the brooding loner with the extroverted golden boy who at 32 revitalized America's oldest magazine. Morris's vast ambition and self-destructive alcoholism, according to King, can be traced to his overbearing, socially insecure smalltown Mississippi mother, who was a secret drinker. Most noteworthy is the description of Morris's colossal fall from grace and rash resignation from Harper's in 1971, where he was blamed for diminished profits. Other standouts are accounts of Morris's close friendship with the dying James Jones, celebrated author of From Here to Eternity, and his tumultuous affair with socialite Barbara Howar, who publicly accused Morris of ripping off her life in his poorly received novel The Last of the Southern Girls. This insider's memoir will be savored by Morris's friends and fans, but won't make him essential to a new generation of readers. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
At the relatively young age of 32, Morris, Mississippi-born editor of the Texas Observer, was named editor in chief of Harper's magazine. His tenure saw a modernization of that venerable periodical ("sweep the decks clean both fore and aft"), and he brought in many writers new to the magazine, including the author of this personal biography of Morris. But Morris' time at Harper's was rocky and didn't end well. From an early age, Morris demonstrated complexity, moodiness, charm, a tendency toward obfuscation (note the title of this book), an inability to confront when necessary, and a reliance on alcohol. Obviously, a good editor does not necessarily make good manager material. Nonetheless, from King's admiring but not whitewashing biography emerges a figure who, as a novelist and a writing teacher as well as an editor, left an indelible impression. Morris died in 1999, at age 64. That his accomplishments should not be forgotten is both the point and the effect of King's engaging account. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I was one of Willie's students at Ole Miss - the ones described in King's book as being clueless as to Willie's real motivations, mental state and financial situation. Read morePublished 24 months ago by C. Denver Mullican
This is a biography of a life that might have come off the pen of Eugene O'Neill. Willi Morris was a mississippi native who made it big as a writer of a couple books well known in... Read morePublished on April 16, 2006 by John Matlock