Willie Morris’s collection of sports stories, Always Stand In Against The Curve begins with a novella, “The Fumble,” a sports classic about high school football in the Deep South in 1951. He describes an epic game between the Yazoo High School football team and the omnipotent Central High Tigers of Jackson. Six additional essays about baseball, basketball, practical jokes and a search for the past form chapters of an American boyhood. Illustrated with 28 photos from the 1950-52 Yazoo High School yearbooks. $15.95, trade paperback, 152 pages. ISBN 9780916242824
The tales that Morris spins in Always Stand In Against the Curve parallel his own growth and development beginning with his schoolboy days in Mississippi, continuing to his college days at the University of Texas (where he was editor of The Daily Texan), extending to Europe with his receipt of a Rhodes scholarship. The longest piece of the collection, “The fumble,” is a certifiable minor masterpiece. It is Morris’s finest effort in the volume and an unusually valuable piece of 1950s Americana in its own right. It re-creates the magnified traumas and triumphs of high school football in the south….Along with a heartbreakingly predictable athletic drama, the story finally examines the sense of community that turns whole southern towns into single-minded, crêpe paper-draped booster organizations….a macroscopic view of one of the most endearing social rituals of the south. Morris’s sure narrative touch lends a poignant and personalized nature very rare to modern writing.
The Houston Post
From boyhood to middle-age, in places as far apart as Oxford, England, and Austin, Texas, Morris has enjoyed adventures as athlete and fan. Charm and mischief mark the best stories, as when Morris tells of driving his college mascot, the University of Texas longhorn steer all the way to a football game at Notre Dame….All the pieces are deeply felt, and some evoke the dreamlike playing fields of Morris’s youth.
Los Angeles Times
The stories bring back what it was like to be seventeen in small town Mississippi. More important, they revive memories of what it was like to be an adolescent anywhere.
The Milwaukee Journal