1957 -- Field of Vision

Field of Vision is rooted in Morris’s native Nebraska, as is Plains Song (1980), his other NBA winner, and a number of his other novels (and photographs). Although now reduced in reputation to a ‘regional novelist’ — many of the books are out of print or saved from being so only by the University of Nebraska Press — Morris was never a great popular success. But he had the respect of the critics, and in his autobiographical Writing My Life (1993), he tells of discovering that he had the respect of perhaps the most distinguished of his contemporary novelists:

Early one fall evening, on a visit to New York, I stepped into a shop near Thirteenth and Fifth, across from Dauber & Pine, to look at a large table of book remainders. Another browser stood across the table from me. We edged slowly around it, clockwise, then glanced up at the same moment, to smile at each other. I had seen his face before—but where?
“You’re Wright Morris?” he asked me. How flattering I found that. “I’m Saul Bellow, he said, and offered me his hand. …“Doing anything?” he asked. I was not. “Come along,” he said….



Their friendship began just after Bellow had won his first NBA for The Adventures of Augie March, and just before Wright won his first NBA for Field of Vision. They stayed close for years, Wright attributing their closeness to a shared sense of humor:

We proved to have many things in common, including our early years in Chicago, but he binding mucilage in our friendship was that the same things struck us as funny. Not merely amusing, but matchlessly zany. …Many years later, when he wrote me to say that in the past we had had the best of each other, it was the liberating laughter he had in mind, and he was right. When we were out of our minds with laughter, the ties that bound us were at their strongest…. Halcyon days!

July 24: On this day in 1725 John Newton, the slave trader-preacher who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," was born.

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