Charles Portis Sort Of Profiled

A couple of weeks ago, for some reason, I was trying to put together a list of American writers from whom I have been awaiting new novels for at least five years or more. I only got as far as three names (Kirsten Bakis, Bob Shacochis and Harry Crews, if you’re scoring at home) but had I actually followed through the author at the top of the list would, of course, be Charles Portis. Every one of his books has been a joy, and the fact that there have only been five of them seems like we’re being cheated or denied somehow. This week’s Times Magazine has an all too brief piece about him, but it is absolutely correct when it notes that he is the “possessor of an original American literary voice comparable to Mark Twain’s.” If you’ve never read him, True Grit or Dog of the South are the best places to start, but be warned, you will wind up reading everything.