Brian Morton (American writer)

Brian Morton (born 1955) is an American author of five works of fiction and one memoir. He currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University and The Bennington Writing Seminars.[1]

Morton's 1998 novel Starting Out in the Evening was adapted into the 2007 film of the same name.[2] His 2006 novel Breakable You was adapted into the 2017 film of the same name.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Morton was born and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he attended Teaneck High School.[4] His father was an Irish-Catholic and a union organizer, and his mother was Jewish, and a school teacher. His mother was from a family of artists. Her brother was a composer, and her father (Morton's grandfather) was an actor in Yiddish theater. He has an older sister who wrote stories as a child.[5]

He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1978.[5]


In 1984, a few months after his father died, Morton began to write a portrait of him. The character of Francis Xavier Burke of The Dylanist is an idealized version of his father. In 1988 he finished the book. In 1988 he was working as a co-editor for the book review of the magazine Dissent, where he became executive editor in 1995. Through his connections at Dissent, Morton found Harvey Klinger as an agent who loved the book. Ted Solotaroff at HarperCollins purchased the book, which received critical praise.[5] In the following decades, Morton wrote four additional works of fiction. In 2022, Morton published Tasha: A Son's Memoir, which chronicles his complex relationship with his mother, whose worsening dementia caused her health to decline.[6]


Morton has received a great deal of praise for his fiction.

Of The Dylanist, Carolyn See wrote in The Los Angeles Times: "How hard it is to write about a wonderful book where nothing 'happens' except precious life. All I can say is: This is one to buy, to read. It echoes in the brain, as your own life unfolds."[7]

Writing in Newsday, Charles Taylor called Starting Out in the Evening "the kind of book that gets you reading novels in the first place What seems more important is that, finally, it’s the kind of book that keeps you reading novels."[8]

Reviewing A Window Across the River in the Palm Beach Post, Scott Eyman wrote: "Brian Morton is some strange kind of magician; his novels have the luminous transparency of a great city at twilight. The vocabulary is basic, but the emotions aren't; the people are artists, but the questions they ponder which is more important, our responsibility to ourselves or to the people we love? are universal."[9]

In his appraisal of Breakable You in The Chicago Tribune, Art Winslow noted: " One thing Morton is to be complimented on is the honesty of the emotional complex he builds into his characters, in which no set of feelings escapes being alloyed with elements of its opposite."[10]

Kirkus Reviews summed up its notice of Florence Gordon by saying: "Always a pleasure to read for his well-drawn characters, quiet insight and dialogue that crackles with wit, Morton here raises his own bar in all three areas. He also joins a sadly small club of male writers who have created memorable heroines."[11]


Personal life[edit]

Morton lives with his partner Heather Harpham a drama teacher, performer and author[12] of a memoir, Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After.[5] Together they have a daughter, Gracie-Amelia,[13] and a son, Gabriel.[14]


  1. ^ Voreacos, David. "AUTHOR COMES OF AGE -- FIRST BOOK IS A NOVEL EXPERIENCE", The Record (Bergen County), November 27, 1991. Accessed September 12, 2007.
  2. ^ Scott, A. O. "Starting Out in the Evening (2007)", The New York Times, November 23, 2007. Accessed May 4, 2008. "A crepuscular glow suffuses “Starting Out in the Evening,” Andrew Wagner’s intelligent, careful adaptation of a near-perfect novel by Brian Morton."
  3. ^ Greene, Ray (14 January 2017). "'Breakable You' Palm Springs Review: Bright Ensemble Elevates Neurotic Comedy". TheWrap. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ Morton, Brian. "May 3: When Proust Came to Teaneck", The New York Times, May 2, 2013. Accessed August 18, 2015. "About 50 years later, when Proust reached Teaneck High School, we were blown away, too."
  5. ^ a b c d Kingstone, Lisa (13 October 2003). "Tales of Love and Art in the World". Retrieved 2019-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Tasha: A Son's Memoir by Brian Morton". 2022-04-12. Retrieved 2022-05-17.
  7. ^ See, Carolyn (August 26, 1991). "Lives Unfold Along Two Trains of Reality". The Los Angeles Times. p. E2. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  8. ^ Taylor, Charles (January 4, 1998). "Life on the Altar of Art". Newsday. p. B12. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  9. ^ Eyman, Scott (September 7, 2003). "Close, for comfort". Palm Beach Post. p. 4J. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  10. ^ Winslow, Art (October 8, 2006). "Characters attempting to untangle matters of love, loss and self-renewal". Palm Beach Post. p. 14-4. Retrieved May 21, 2022 – via
  11. ^ "Florence Gordon". Kirkus Reviews. June 15, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "Hello Sunshine". Hello Sunshine. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  13. ^ "Heather Harpham on her exquisite literary memoir, about love & medicine & parenting, HAPPINESS". Leslie A. Lindsay. 2018-05-25. Retrieved 2019-12-02.
  14. ^ Martyris, Nina (6 August 2017). "'Happiness' Explores The Complex Push And Pull Of Human Relationships". Retrieved 2019-12-02.

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