I cannot in good conscience recommend that you read Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany if you’ve never read any of his novels, because you should absolutely start with the novels (suggestions here), but I can indeed recommend that you purchase Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany for later, because once you start reading him you are going to want to read pretty much anything you can get your hands on. The Times Magazine once referred to him as the “possessor of an original American literary voice comparable to Mark Twain’s,” and while that is true is does not exactly convey just how uniquely American that voice is. Anyway, I tore through Escape Velocity and then went back and read most of the works again, because they are that compelling. Jay Jennings, who assembled the collection, has a piece today about his reporting during the Civil Rights era that should whet your appetite. Now go buy the book.