Books by Mississippi Writers 1996-2010



Willie Morris


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Nonfiction by Willie Morris (Random House hardcover, $18.95, ISBN: 0375503218, 11/1999; Vintage Books paperback, $11.00, ISBN: 0375706933, 11/2000) The pleasurable confessions of a dog man gone ailurophile―that is, become a cat man―from Morris (The Ghosts of Medgar Evers, 1997, etc.). Morris, who died [in 8/1999], was an inveterate dog lover―he had even made a tidy boodle off a book and film about his dog, Skip―who underwent a conversion. His fiance had already warned him she wanted a kitten: "Her announcement, as you can only fathom, struck me in my inmost sinews." Then, into his life, without warningand "unwarranted," as he put it―strode an abandoned kitten, a gift from his stepson. He couldn't very well get rid of it, so he made do, naming the cat Rivers Applewhite. Now R.A. slowly became joy enough to Morris, but nothing akin to Rivers's son, the Spit McGee celebrated here, a cat that Morris coaxed life into when his young mother blew an emotional gasket during the birth and rejected the litter. It's the kind of tie that binds, as Morris discovered. Through a series of linked cat tales, Morris tries to get a grip on why he became a menial to this cat and in the course of his attempt draws a deeply affectionate picture of the evolution of their friendship. The stories flash with humor, but the best also tap into Spit's veil of mystery, when Morris attempts to decipher the cat's interest in the telephone, or his arcane eating habits, his seemingly psychic facilities, his communicative gestures (many of which have to do with the language of the tail), and why he slept on his back, four feet to the sky, a figure of habitude like a dead cockroach. Spit goes so far as to offer Morris an insight into the music of the spheres: "Without wishing to sound histrionic, the birth of Spit ... evoked for me a reserve of continuity, of the generations, of life passing on life, of the cycles." From a man who was owned by a cat, a tender, melodious tribute. ―Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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