WRITERS HAVE BEEN KNOWN to transfer their affections from one hangout to another; in the case of Willie Morris (North Toward Home, Yazoo) it's been a matter of a 1,200-mile removal. The Warehouse, in Oxford, Mississippi, may not be Elaine's (the New York restaurant where big-name literati watch each other munching fried zucchini) but it's where Morris, now teaching contemporary lit at the University of Mississippi, takes friends like William Styron, George Plimpton, James Dickey, John Knowles, Winston Groom, Gloria Jones (widow of James) and, most recently, top literary agent Sterling Lord, who've come down there to talk to his classes. Oxford is also where William Faulkner spent much of his life and where his niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, along with her husband Larry, runs Yoknapatawpha Press (The Famous Writers Cookbook) in offices over Sneed's Hardware, right on the town square. Dean Wells agrees that "since Willie hit town, it's turned into a spot on the literary map," for folks other than pilgrims to the sites of her uncle's life.
Besides teaching in Oxford, Morris, who first went there two years ago to be writer-in-residence, is also working on his next novel, about a small Mississippi town during the Korean war. Called Taps, it's to be published by Doubleday. (A collection of Morris essays, Terrains of the Heart, has just been brought out by Yoknapatawpha.) A Mississippi native son, Morris, who spent time at England's Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, is perhaps best known as the editor of Harper's magazine during its '60s blossoming. Now, with every bit as much dedication, he's the adviser to The Ole Miss Magazine, which he helped his students to start up. Perhaps Lewis Lapham, who resigned from Harper's under fire earlier this year, should be on the lookout for a campus of his own.