- Gaines Green (to be published)
- Waiting for April (April 2003)
- The Total View of Taftly (2000)
by Chris Coffey (SHS) 2002
Mississippi writer Scott Morris has led an interesting and adventurous life. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, on October, 4 1966, his parents are Max and Nila Vae Morris. Morris has one sister, Juliane. After graduating from West Orange High School, he started college at Ole Miss where he studied philosophy. After getting his undergraduate degree, he went to Oxford College in England to take graduate courses.
Morris had many neat experiences while in England. Once when school was out, he and some friends toured Europe looking for work. They ended up picking grapes in Provence for a little while. Before becoming a writer and teacher, Morris also held other jobs. He was at one time a fisherman, a pizza deliverer, and then an orange grove tractor operator (Hill Street Press.) When he returned to the United States, Morris ended up at the University of Chicago, where he worked on his master’s. He worked as an editor for the Oxford American and then The Weekly Standard. While he was in Washington (in 1995 or 1996) working for the Weekly Standard, he began writing his second published novel Waiting for April.
In 1996 Morris moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he lived for six years. There he rewrote and finished Waiting for April, but when he got eight rejection notices, he began writing The Total View of Taftly, which was published in 2000 by Hill Street Press. He had moved to Jackson to write screenplays with Sid Scott. Although he wrote three screenplays, he did not make much money. Of screen writing, he says, “It only takes you about a month to write a screen play. It’s nothing like the work that goes into writing a novel.”
Morris’s favorite author changes from time to time, but in a recent interview he was reading Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. However, Morris says that Walker Percy has had the greatest influence on his work. Morris has always written but never thought he could make a career of it. After coming back from overseas though, he dedicated to pursue writing aggressively.
Morris was an English instructor at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, in 2007. In 2011, he applied to NYU’s MFA program and began to re-write a novel he had been working on. The re-write is called Gaines Green, which he is trying to get published. His Kickstarter project to re-write this novel was successfully funded on June 22, 2011. The novel is set in Central Florida with a first person narrator but is not yet published.
A Review of The Total View of Taftly
by Chris Coffey (SHS)
The Total View of Taftly by Scott Morris tells about Taftly Harper’s life, or most of it, up until the age of thirty five. The story takes place in the fictional town of Copiah Springs, a small Southern town. The reader follows Taftly on his eccentric life journey from one event to another. Taftly, who happens to be slightly overweight, finds a running magazine and resolves to get into shape. Fueled by the hope of finding true love and the fear of his unsightly reflection in the mirror, Taftly slowly slims down. After exercising himself into a more presentable body, Taftly begins to search for love.
A common disease of love, called lust, actually finds him first, in the form of two portly twins. The twins sexually assault Taftly without even being provoked. After being assaulted, Taftly tries to get on with his life. After his assault, Taftly thinks he has found true love although his frolic with a tall beautiful blonde also goes sour. Taftly decides to move out into the country, thinking that the change of surroundings will do him well. While on his new property, he meets the “grounds keeper” Dennis. Dennis claims to have been abducted by aliens. Despite being a little strange, Dennis soon becomes one of Taftly’s few good friends.
Following Taftly from one escapade to another, the reader gradually becomes more attached to him. Morris reveals Taftly’s thoughts and actions as he deals with long lost love and the loss of his father and mother. Furthermore, Taftly becomes more and more dependent upon alcohol.
The book is written in the third person, in which the narrator sees all, hears all, and can also tell what is going on inside the characters’ minds. The colorful dialogue and lewd references to body parts might turn off some readers. Also, many scenes take place in a bar, and Taftly drinks quite a bit of alcohol. However, the dialogue, despite being permeated with profanities, adds a certain degree of verisimilitude to the story that could not have been attained otherwise.
At first, the book might seem strange, but after completing it, I realized just how good a book it actually is. Not until after re-reading some parts and thinking about others did I come to appreciate the book’s tremendous value. The book’s dialogue is incredibly humorous and will have the reader laughing as long as he continues to read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who needs to put his life into perspective.
by Chris Coffey (SHS)
What are the names of your parents?
My father’s name is Max, and my mother’s name is Nila Vae.
Where and when were you born?
I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on October 4, 1966.
Where did you attend high school?
I attended West Orange High School in Orange County.
Did you enjoy school?
Yes, I was a good student, and I liked school.
I hear that you attended college overseas.
Yes, I attended college at Oxford in England.
I read that at one time you delivered pizzas.
God, where did you find that? Yeah, I delivered pizzas in high school.
Who is your favorite author?
Like most people, my favorite author shifts from time to time. Currently I am reading Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald. I have read some of his other books too.
What author has influenced you the most?
How long did it take you to write The Total View of Taftly?
The first draft only took a couple of months, and it took almost another year to polish it up.
Is the book, although fiction, based on you or someone you know?
No, the book is in no way about me.
The “total view” is mentioned many times in the book, is this “total view” comparable to God’s omniscient attribute?
Yes, the total view is the idea of being able to see everything, past, present, and future. It is also the ability to see details, be they telescopic or microscopic.
The Total View of Taftly is dedicated to your mother, your father, and Julianne. Who is Julianne?
She is my sister. Julianne is in her early thirties.
What is your new book April, about?
Actually the book is titled Waiting for April. It is essentially a coming of age story about a boy who grows up in a small Florida town. The boy’s father was killed while the boy was still very young. As the boy gets older, he begins to investigate the cause for his father’s death and slowly pieces the story together.
When will it be published?
Hopefully, it will come out in April, 2003.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Hmm…Read a lot, Write a lot, and live a lot. Try not to go into debt; find a benefactor. If you are a guy, marry a rich girl; if you are a girl, marry a rich guy.
How has Mississippi, or living in Mississippi influenced your writing?
It has meant the world to me, there are a lot of colorful people here; therefore there are a lot of colorful stories. Mississippi has also been very supportive and kind to me.
- A good book review of The Total View of Taftly “The hilarious adventures of an iconoclast” by MARY JANE PARK © St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000
- Scott Morris is raising money on Kickstarter to fund the publishing of his newest novel Gaines Green.
- Interesting article in Esquire by Morris discusses his financial personal hardships and his manuscript for Gaines Green.
- Corder, Charlee. “Morris is a writer for the 21st century.” Jackson: The Clarion-Ledger, April 13. 2003 5F.
- Morris, Scott. Telephone interview. 12 Dec. 2002.
- Myers, David. E-Mail interview. 9 Dec. 2002.
- Morris, Scott. The Total View of Taftly. Athens, Georgia: Hill Street Press, 2000