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Long regarded as one of the most gifted American writers, WRIGHT
MORRIS was the author of over thirty-three award-winning books, among
them the National Book Award in 1956 for his novel
A Field of Vision. His most recent novel, Plains Song won
the 1981 American Book Award for Fiction. He is the author of seventeen
other novels, several collections of short stories, books of criticism,
and a number of photo-text books. Black Sparrow Press has reprinted
My Life (1993) and Three Easy Pieces (1993). The University of
Nebraska Press has brought out several titles in handsome reprint editions.
Despite his many books and awards, widespread popularity eluded him during
his lifetime. Stephen Goodwin, in The Washington Post Book World,
said, "No writer in America is more honored and less read than Wright
Morris." Geoffrey Wolff, writing in The New York Times Book Review
July 25, 1976), explains Morris's reputation this way: "Perhaps [the
lack of] response to his work is less mysterious than it is regrettable. For
Morris has no single voice, nothing like the kind of assertive style that marks
a paragraph, wherever it is found, by Stanley Elkin or Saul Bellow or Vladmir Nabokov.
And this is
his grace: he will not be a star; he allows all ties to be subsumed by the matter at hand,
the object under his care. As as there are so many objects in his junkshop,
in the world, so are there many voices. ..." Walter Allen, writing in
The Modern Novel (EP Dutton, 1964), says, "Wright Morris is one of the
liveliest talents in the American novel today, and of his dozen or so novels one could
pick out any single one as absolutely typical of his work. But he is always a formidable
able to bring past and present together in a single moment of time, and a writer
in whom the bizarre, the pathetic and the comic exist cheek by jowl...."
And in his Wright Morris (U of Minnesota P, 1968), Leon Howard writes,
"No other American novelist has approached him in the rich variety of his
materials and in the ability to keep them raw enough to seem real while
they are being handled with an art as sophisticated as that of Henry James."
For many years, Morris and his wife, Josephine Mary Kantor,
made their home in Mill Valley, California.
He was born in Central City, Nebraska on January 6,
1910 and died in April 1998. For more information about Wright Morris,
visit the web site of the Lone Tree Literary Soceity.
"I am not a regional writer, but the characteristics of this region have
conditioned what I see, what I look for, and what I find in the world to