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Literary Criticism Review     

Willie Morris
Shifting Interludes: Selected Essays
edited by Jack Bailes
University of Mississippi Press, 2002
Hardcover,$28.00 (209 pages)
ISBN: 1-57806-478-3


Remembering Willie
University of Mississippi Press, 2000
Trade paper, $12.00 (120 pages)
ISBN: 1-57806-267-5




Reviewing Willie Morris feels unnecessary. It's hard to imagine any serious reader of Southern Literature or Contemporary American literature has missed his work. 

Willie Morris: Shifting Interludes: Selected Essays spans forty years and includes essays from his early work as the editor of the student newspaper at the University of Texas (Austin) through an essay composed for his sixty-first birthday. The pieces were originally written for the Daily Texan, Texas Observer, the Washington Star, Vanity Fair, Southern Living, Parade, Esquire, Life, and the New York Times among others. 

Taken as a whole, these essays reflect an approachable and good-natured intellectual. The collection brings together newspaper editorials, biographical profiles, travel narratives, columns, sports commentaries, book reviews, political analysis, and the author's complicated, unflinching, affectionate commentary on his home state of Mississippi. Two of the essays are previously unpublished. 

Remebering Willie is subtitled "A collection of tributes memorializing Willie Morris, the acclaimed southern author." If a man is known "by the company he keeps," Morris and "FOWS" -- Friends of Willies -- were always in extraordinary company. While many of his closest friends, fellow writers, and protégés are all luminaries in their own right, all of them praised Morris for his generosity of spirit, encouragement, and courtly manners. Some of the writers included here are: the Reverend Will D. Campbell, William Styron, David Halberstam, Mike Espy, Josephine Ayres Haxton (Ellen Douglas), Governor William F. Winter, Jill Connor Browne, Winston Groom, Peter Applebaum, Rick Bragg, President Bill Clinton, Rheta Grimsley Johnson, and Donna Tartt.

Both books reflect a man with great passions, filled with intellectual curiosity, who practiced the genuine kindness he learned growing up in the small town of Yazoo City, Mississippi.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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