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Why You Should Be Reading Michael Morris

Accolades for Michael Morris’s new book in advance of our Friday Twitter chat with the author.

One of the hottest books on our Fall/Winter Reading List is “Man in the Blue Moon,” set in 1918 and based on a story told to fifth-generation Florida native Michael Morris by his grandfather. The book begins with what is supposed to be a clock arriving on Ella Wallace’s doorstep but is instead a mysterious man. He convinces Ella he can help save the Florida land that’s been in her family for generations, and she begins to trust him. But it soon becomes evident that things are not what they appear, as hypocrisy and murder shake the coastal town of Apalachicola and jeopardize Ella’s family.

Praise for “Man in the Blue Moon” has come from the likes of Pat Conroy, Patti Callahan Henry and fellow Floridian Janis Owens, who said, “The magic of turn-of-the-century Old Florida, in all its pain and natural beauty, has found its voice with native son, Michael Morris.”

Pat Conroy, who says Morris is one of his favorite writers, said, “‘Man in the Blue Moon’ is a beautifully wrought portrayal of small town southern life where poverty, tragedy and human love engage in a ritualistic dance. His portrait of Dead Lakes, Florida, is one of the best portraits of a small Southern town I’ve ever encountered. His main character, Ella Wallace, is fascinating and Mr. Morris is one of those rare writers whose females are as fully formed individuals as his males. Buy it. Read it.”

Readers may know Morris, who lives in Alabama, from his 2002 book “A Place Called Wiregrass” about a woman on the run. His other books have included “Slow Way Home” and novella “Live Like You Were Dying.” On his blog, Morris talks about how hearing an NPR interview with author Lee Smith made him realize he could capture the unique characters of his native Florida through writing. After completing “A Place Called Wiregrass,” he slipped Lee a copy at one of her booksignings and waited for feedback.

“My heart raced as I read her words – encouraging words – words that would become the first blurb I’d ever receive,” he writes. Two books later, Morris has no trouble receiving high praise in his blurbs and has been compared to Flannery O’Connor, Alice Hoffman and Harper Lee. The Birmingham News called him “someone to watch,” and Publishers Weekly said, “Book clubs should devour this rich, carefully observed mix of characters, time, and place.”

Join us as we chat with Michael Morris on Friday, November 2, from 1-2 CST (2-3 EST) on Twitter using the hashtag #southernlit. We’ll also be giving away a copy of the book during the chat! Following Morris will be a chat with “American Ghost” author Janis Owens on November 16. For more great fall reads, see our Fall/Winter Reading List

Michael Morris photo by Natalie Brasington Photography.

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