There were eight million telephone numbers in the Manhattan directory, and every one of them would have returned my calls.

Willie Morris, the youngest ever editor-in-chief of Harper’s, ran with a standout literary crowd during his leadership of the magazine from 1967 until 1971.

The Mississippi-bred writer gave himself some time to think over those rarefied years and in 1994, recounted his four-cocktail lunches, editorial head butting, and Elaine’s dinners alongside Joan Didion, George Plimpton, Lewis Lapham, William Styron, Norman Mailer, among others.

It’s also worth mentioning that the man had a five-star vocabulary. Words like appurtenances, mucilaginous, jocosely, and suzerainties regularly appear in the pages but we promise it’s still a good read.

(Want to build up your treasury of conversation-stopping words even more? Grab Morris’s North Toward Home, which chronicles the years leading up to his glittering New York reign.)

Thanks to our friends at Flat Vernacular for the excellent backdrops behind these titles.

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