The Book on Willie Morris

He was known as a merry-eyed glad-hander, a good ol’ boy who launched his career as the influential editor of the Daily Texan and the Texas Observer.

Everybody thought they knew him. Few truly did. Willie Weaks Morris was a man of many parts. Some did not mesh with the others. The private Willie Morris—the brooder, the loner, the man who could lose himself in sleep because wakefulness was too painful, the man who called his telephone an instrument of torture and hid it in the refrigerator to muffle its rings, the man who at bottom was as stubborn as any mule William Faulkner ever owned, the man who became known, in plain ugly language, as the town drunk—well, that contentious and complex fellow is a Willie Morris his adoring public never met. You haven’t read about that fellow either.

No way to rhyme that private, haunted, sometimes terribly difficult soul with the public Willie Morris of legend: the glad-hander and shoulder hugger, the good ol’ boy from Mississippi, the incomparable raconteur of the Texas saloon or the New York salon, the literary star whose reputation soared at the daily paper of the University of Texas and later at the Texas Observer. In Austin he learned the skills that made him not only near-perfect in matching writer to subject but also so adroit an editor that writers felt chagrin that they hadn’t written it that way.

Willie’s emotions were as primitive and as changeable as the weather. He was the worst I ever saw at hiding his true feelings; he had little talent for the duplicities or wicked dirkings of office politics—a trait that ultimately cost him the job he

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