1. Fresh Air critic John Powers on why you should be reading Charles Portis:

The grand exception is my favorite American writer, 78-year-old Charles Portis, who could hardly be less hip. This ex-Marine loves cars, knows guns, can’t stand hippies and lives off the media radar in Little Rock, Ark., without being famous for trying not to be famous. If his name rings a bell, it’s because he wrote True Grit, a sneaky-dark Western that inspired two movies and was the closest he ever came to trying to write the Great American Novel. Yet among Portis’ followers — and yes, we’re a cult — that book doesn’t display what makes him special. For us, thinking that True Grit is the best of his five novels is like saying “Hey Jude” is the Beatles at their finest…
What makes his work magical is the deadpan brilliance of his language, which is at once extraordinarily observant — he notices the iridescent rainbow sheen on a slice of roast beef — and yet comically askew, so that we see the world in a way we’ve not quite seen it before. He’s our funniest living writer with a sense of humor so sly that you can read his best book, The Dog of the South, five or 10 times and still find jokes you’ve never noticed before.

    Fresh Air critic John Powers on why you should be reading Charles Portis:

    The grand exception is my favorite American writer, 78-year-old Charles Portis, who could hardly be less hip. This ex-Marine loves cars, knows guns, can’t stand hippies and lives off the media radar in Little Rock, Ark., without being famous for trying not to be famous. If his name rings a bell, it’s because he wrote True Grit, a sneaky-dark Western that inspired two movies and was the closest he ever came to trying to write the Great American Novel. Yet among Portis’ followers — and yes, we’re a cult — that book doesn’t display what makes him special. For us, thinking that True Grit is the best of his five novels is like saying “Hey Jude” is the Beatles at their finest…

    What makes his work magical is the deadpan brilliance of his language, which is at once extraordinarily observant — he notices the iridescent rainbow sheen on a slice of roast beef — and yet comically askew, so that we see the world in a way we’ve not quite seen it before. He’s our funniest living writer with a sense of humor so sly that you can read his best book, The Dog of the South, five or 10 times and still find jokes you’ve never noticed before.

  2. Charles Portis

    John Powers

    Fresh Air