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North Toward Home

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  595 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
With his signature style and grace, Willie Morris, arguably one of this country's finest Southern writers, presents us with an unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a boy coming of age in a period of tumultuous cultural, social, and political change.

In North Toward Home, Morris vividly recalls the South of his childhood with all of its cruelty, grace, and foi
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 22nd 2000 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1967)
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Kim Fay
Dec 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have not admired the integrity of a book in such a long time. Willie Morris makes no apologies for the contradictions of his Mississippi childhood (which made for painful reading at times), as he writes about his discomfort with and affection for it. He comes of age over a long period of time, from his boyhood in the South through his time at the University of Texas to his twenties as an editor in New York. The section on Texas was a tough one to get through (a lot of names I had to keep strai ...more
Deven Black
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent evocation of an impressionistic life divided into three parts: Mississippi; Texas; and New York.

As a native Mahattanite, I say without reserve that Morris has painted a clear, evocative picture of life in the NYC of the early to late 1960s.

His descriptions of his Mississippi boyhood are so complete and well written that I feel I was beside him growing up. His description of the Mississippi delta describe what I expected to see, but didn't really experience there during the week I
Mississippi Library Commission
This memoir follows its author from Mississippi to Texas to New York. Sometimes we have to leave home in order to understand it better, and that's exactly what Morris did. He's a gorgeous writer, too--enjoy!
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
The late Willie Morris takes us through his boyhood in the Mississippi Delta to his college days at the University of Texas on to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar back to the States where he became the youngest editor-in-chief (33) of a major weekly magazine (Harper's) in 1967. While at Harper's, he helped in launching the careers of William Styron and Norman Mailer.

NORTH TOWARD HOME is a classic memoir in its focus on "growing up" in the Deep South as a "white boy" in the 1940s in the Deep
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jun 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This is a memoir by Willie Morris covering his childhood in Yazoo City, MS, his tenure as editor of the University of Texas paper, his time as editor of the Texas Observer, & his time at Harper's Magazine in New York.

I have connections to a lot of this - my mother's family is from Mississippi (Eupora, MS). I was a little girl in Austin for the brief period my father was there in graduate school for his MFA. This period is most notable for me because I learned to read there. I did part of hig
Sonya L Moore
Feb 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I loaned this book to Ron and waited (like a spy behind the curtains) for him to write the review so I could steal it. And here it is:

A pretty good read overall, but he seemed intent on showing how "righteous" he was by not being in the least bit racist. From Amazon: With his signature style and grace, Willie Morris, arguably one of this country's finest Southern writers, presents us with an unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a boy coming of age in a period of tumultuous cultural
James Aura
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and bittersweet. The evolution of a boy from the deep South as he matures and learns
about the wider world. Of the books I've read this year, one of my favorites. If you are a Northerner, the book will probably give you a better understanding of growing up in the South.
If you are a Southerner, it will resonate with you, make you uncomfortable at times, but ultimately add to your realm of experience.
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and honest book that made understand the redneck boys I grew up with a little better. But Willie matured, unlike so many who stayed stuck in some primitive juvenile pattern.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: olli-class, 2017
This book brought back my own experiences of growing up in the same time span as Morris, but in different circumstances. Very revealing comparisons and useful in examining my first 20 years in conservative small town Wisconsin, followed by what felt like liberation in urban New York in the 1960s and onward. Morris deals primarily with his roots in Mississippi 1934-1952, his college years and 2 years as a political newspaper editor in Texas, and a move to New York in 1963, age 29, for life in the ...more
Ryan Holiday
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have never liked Catcher in the Rye. Perhaps it is not the book that is at fault but the undeserved reaction it gets. There are so many better boyhood memoirs (or books about boyhood alienation, whatever you want to call them), the best being This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. It's not only based on someone's actual life, but it speaks more deeply to the truth of the experience and it has a resolution. Wolff's character becomes a man-as must we all-unlike Salinger, who conveniently ends the book ...more
Gavin Breeden
Oct 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
A memoir written in the early 70s about Morris' boyhood growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, his college/maturing years split between Texas and Oxford, England, and finally, the beginning of his writing/editing career at Harper's Magazine in NYC. (Although his controversial editorship there is not mentioned, probably because it had not yet happened when he wrote the book.) Each section covers about a third of the book: "Mississippi," "Texas," and "New York City."

Hands down the best part was th
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: home
I was so excited to get this book because Morris' book, Taps, is one of my favorites. And I am a sucker for writing about place, and most especially the place of the South. This book was wonderful, and my only regret was that I was reading it at a time in my life when I was REALLY TIRED, so it took me a while to finish it because I quickly fell asleep each time I started reading it (this in no way is a remark on the book). Due to the unfortunate timing, I look forward to reading it again. Even s ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it
A pretty good read overall, but he seemed intent on showing how "righteous" he was by not being in the least bit racist. From Amazon: With his signature style and grace, Willie Morris, arguably one of this country's finest Southern writers, presents us with an unparalleled memoir of a country in transition and a boy coming of age in a period of tumultuous cultural, social, and political change.

In North Toward Home, Morris vividly recalls the South of his childhood with all of its cruelty, grace
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I do not remember when I first pulled this book from my family bookshelf but I do remember the awe in my father's voice as he named it-- he was Morris' neighbor at the University of Texas. And this may have something to do with why I found the Texas section so enthralling.

Morris is a great chronicler of his places and eras. He captures the smalltown South with a bittersweet edge that can only be known as love by those who share it.

His times are far removed from mine in many ways, and yet I rec
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
This book was a perfect choice to follow The Warmth of Other Suns, because it told the other side: a white boy, well-off, growing up in small town Mississippi in the 1940's. The difference between his life and Ida Mae's in Warmth of Other Suns couldn't be more glaring, and it made for a harsh read, after identifying so with Ida Mae's hardships. So that aspect of his early life I valued, although his tendency to tell one prank after another got rather old, quickly. The middle third of the book is ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoy memoirs and I liked this one in the beginning and the end. This is the memoir of the author, his growing up in Mississippi in the late 1930's,college life in Texas and his working life in and around New York city. I enjoyed reading about him growing up and what was going on in the nation at that time. But when he went into talking about the Kennedy and LBJ presidency during his work on the University of Austin's college paper in the early 1960's he lost me. If you are interested in readi ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a good read for anyone, but those who will connect most with it are southerners who either (a) grew up in Morris's in-between generation, i.e. those too young to have been in the "Greatest Generation" but not young enough to have been the counter-culturists who came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the Eisenhower/Kennedy children who experienced the prosperity and ideological absolutism of the 1950s, but also the contrast of the 1960s; or (b) anyone who, like myself, grew up in ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Talk about being in the right place at the right time. This (true!) memoir follows Willie Morris from his beginnings in Yazoo City, Mississippi (1940s) to his stint as a university student and young editor in Austin, Texas (1950s) to his eventual nesting place in NYC as the editor of Harper's Magazine (1960s).

The best passages in this book reveal Morris' crisp memories/nostalgia the Deep South that he knew as a youth and the ugly cruelties of that place and time. By the time he "arrives" in New
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
If only he would have stopped writing after the Mississippi section, I would have a favorable regard for him as a writer capable of injecting soul into the everyday experiences of a life. Instead he wrote about Texas, particularly his political experience there, and New York simply to tell his reader what they were like, which was unfortunate for me, a reader who never cared to know what his experiences in Texas and New York were like unless they seemed to matter in a real way to someone, prefer ...more
Etha Frenkel
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I greatly enjoyed this book . . . with one reservation. The second section: Texas, although very interesting and highly amusing was laced with oblique references to people and events (and even some unattributed quotes) that meant nothing to me. Either I should have read it on my laptop so I could google everything I didn't understand or the book should have an extensive set of footnotes. The first and third sections were totally different: very well written, very profound (sometimes these profou ...more
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a selection for my book club. I'm not the biggest fan of memoirs, but I really ended up enjoying the majority of this one. Morris grows up in Mississippi, is educated in Texas and Oxford, and ends up in New York City. I did enjoy his observations on the majority of his life. I also enjoyed his background on Lyndon B. Johnson. Overall this was a very interesting time in American history, and Morris was there as a writer observing and recording it.
Cate Poe
Jun 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
My older and wiser first lover mailed this to me the summer I left Texas.

I was 17 and had just arrived in NYC for my first newspaper job by way of Antioch College. My first time East of the Mississippi.

It was his poignant and gentle way of telling me I was never coming home. That it was time for both of us to move on.
J.R. Rogers
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful coming of age story told in retrospective: from Mississippi to Texas and finally New York City the author recounts what it's like to be both a Southerner and an American. Famously, perhaps, if one is a fan, Morris first spotted Donna Tart (The Goldfinch) then a freshman at the Univ. of Mississippi where he was a writer in residence. His attention to her writing help launch her career.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
An old-style autobiography, fascinating to anyone who grew up in any of the three states he did: Mississippi, Texas, New York. Oddball and insightful by turns. Especially interesting to me about Austin, and the University of Texas, seeing some stories I know well from a new angle.
Daniel Hester
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Best book to give you a kick in the ass after you graduate college. Morris is a the quintessential southern intellectual with a dogged love for the South that is only matched by his devotion to his craft. The guy gets it and does MS proud.
George Bradford
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: truth, southern-man
One of the best memoirs I've ever read. Willie Morris's childhood in Yazoo City, Mississippi sets the foundation for his journey to the University of Texas and then New York City where he would birth and raise the long form "New Journalism".
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I moved to Mississippi for grad school in 1983 and this was one of the first books my new friends suggested I read, to get a better sense of where I was.

It was a great suggestion. Willie could sure use words well.
Jun 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
As a native Mississippian I think I was supposed to enjoy this book. Maybe I read it at the wrong stage in my life. I enjoyed the stories of growing up in the Mississippi Delta but once Morris left for Texas (about a third into the book) it was not an enjoyable read.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good, interesting points of view regarding life in Mississippi as he knew it as a child. A little slow, many details that did not personally interest me, though he is undoubtedly an excellent writer.
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William Weaks "Willie" Morris (November 29, 1934 — August 2, 1999), was an American writer and editor born in Jackson, Mississippi, though his family later moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, which he immortalized in his works of prose. Morris' trademark was his lyrical prose style and reflections on the American South, particularly the Mississippi Delta. In 1967 he became the youngest editor of Har ...more
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