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[ "Charles Portis Through His Critics' Eyes" | Periodicals | Books | Miscellany | Acknowledgements | Links ]
"Had they determined him to be half crazy all the time or full crazy half the time? [ . . . ] He had whatever the opposite of paranoia is called. He thought everybody liked him and took a deep personal interest in his welfare. But then everybody did like him."
- Jimmy, on retired bowler and sports poet Mott, Gringos, 72-73.
New for 7/18/02-8/6/02 Message board
Mission statement
  • The Unofficial Charles Portis website aims to be a virtual cornucopia of book reviews and biographical pieces related to its namesake. Through the transcription and uploading of several rare articles, I hope to enrich the discourse surrounding the author in the online community. I hope you enjoy your stay.
    --Alex T. Moore
Biographical information

Charles (McColl) Portis

Family: Born December 28, 1933, in El Dorado, AR; son of Samuel Palmer (a school superintendent) and Alice (Waddell) Portis.

Education: University of Arkansas, B.A., 1958.

Religion: Presbyterian.

Military/Wartime Service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1952-55; became sergeant.

Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow and Nesbit Associates, 598 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.

Career: Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, reporter, 1958; Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, reporter, 1959-60; New York Herald Tribune, New York, NY, reporter and London correspondent, 1960-64; freelance writer, 1964- .

Commentary: Charles Portis' comic skill has been characterized in many ways, which can be loosely amalgamated into the idea that Portis delivers to us obsessive, often humorless eccentrics that produce unself-conscious monologues over the course of fruitless quests, all in a deadpan tone that doesn't give so much as a wink to the reader. Katherine A. Powers of The Boston Globe echoes this sentiment in saying, "Here (Father Jackie, from Dog of the South) is revealing - as all Portis's characters do - a little more than he knows and illustrating the author's marvelous ear for quirks and for huge banalities that pass as conversation when things really get going" ( The Boston Globe, 11/18/01).
Published works (with reviews)
Novels (chronological)
Norwood. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966.
Norwood review, by Martis Levin The New York Times ??/??/66
"New and Noteworthy Paperbacks" The New York Times 11/10/85
"Book Review Revue."The Stranger.09/23/99
"Reissues: Norwood."Entertainment Weekly12/09/99
"New and Noteworthy Paperback" The New York Times01/18/00
"Grim's Favorite Tales." Peninsula PulseSummer 2000
"Reissues Redouble the Laughter" The Denver Post10/31/??
"Rediscover Authors You've Never Heard Of"BookSense.com n.a.
"Grim's Favorite Tales." Peninsula PulseSummer 2000

True Grit New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.
"Song and Swagger of the Old West" Saturday Review06/29/68
"Mattie Ross's True Account"The New York Times 07/07/68
"True Grit" The Nation 10/05/68
"Portis' True Grit: Adventure or Entwicklungsroman?" by R. Baird ShumanEnglish Journal 03/??/70
"Western Justice"Newsday05/20/01

The Dog of the South. New York: Knopf, 1979.
"Books of the Times"The New York Times 06/22/79
"A Glorious Gift for Gab"Newsweek07/09/79
"Middle American Journey into Hell" Book World ??/??/79
"Papertrail,"The Village Voice09/21/99
" The Dog of the South,"Amazon.comn.a.
"Dog of the South Review"Library Journal4/15/79

Masters of Atlantis. New York: Knopf, 1985.
"Books of the Times"The New York Times 10/07/85
"Pletho Pappus and the Doughboy" The New York Times 10/27/85
"A Cult from The Lost Continent"The Washington Post10/27/85
Masters of Atlantis review, by John McNallyThe Missouri Review n.a.
"Masters of Atlantis"Library Journal5/15/00

Gringos. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
"New and Noteworthy The Los Angeles Times 01/06/91
"Hapless Americans Adrift in Mexico" Newsday 01/14/91
"Happy Motoring in Mexico"Newsweek01/14/91
"A Quest to Kill Time in the Yucatan"The New York Times 01/19/91
"Weirdos in a Strange Land"The New York Times 01/20/91
"Macho Mush in Mexico"The St. Petersburg Times 01/20/91
"Slouching Toward Yucatan"The Washington Post 02/10/91
"Ambling with Odballs and Misfits" The Boston Globe02/11/91
"Books Briefly -- Gringos"The Seattle Times 03/03/91
"A Satirist at the Top of His Form" The Toronto Star05/18/91
"Rollin' Down the Forgotten River"The Washtington Post 09/01/91
"On the Shelf"The New York Daily News11/12/00
"New and Noteworthy Paperbacks"The New York Times 11/12/00
"Gringos Review"Library Journal1/??/91
"Gringos Review 2"Library Journal5/15/01
Periodical articles (chronological)
  • "The New Sound from Nashville," Saturday Evening Post, 239 (12 Feb ruary 1966): 30-38.
  • "Traveling Light," Saturday Evening Post, 239 (18 June 1966): 54-77 ; 239 (2 July 1966): 48-75.
  • "True Grit," Saturday Evening Post, 241 (18 May 1968): 68-85; 241 (1 June 1968): 46-61; 241 (15 June 1968): 44-57.
  • "Your Action Line," The New Yorker, 53 (12 December 1977): 42-43. Faulkner Wells, Dean, ed. The Great American Writers' Cookbook. Oxford: Yoknapatawpha Press (1981). (Edited by and with an introduction by Craig Claiborne, food critic for The New York Times: A collection of recipes from 175 writers -- Several wr iters, including Joseph Heller and Charles Portis, contribute excuses.)
  • "Nights Can Turn Cool in Viborra." The Atlantic Monthly, 270 (Dec. 1992): 101-106.
  • "I Don't Talk Service No More." The Atlantic Monthly, May 1996 Vol 277, No. 5, pp 90-92.
  • "Combinations of Jacksons." The Atlantic Monthly, May, 1999 Vol 283 No. 5, pp 81-92. (A Memoir)
Criticism
Books about the author (alphabetical)
  • "Charles (McColl) Portis," in Contemporary Authors. (A profile of the author's life and works)
  • Cleary, Michael. "Charles Portis." Twentieth Century Western Writers. Detroit: Gale Research Company,1982. (Possibly Geoff Sadler, ed., and Cleary is contributor? Accessed on Book In Print online database.)
  • Colby, Vineta (ed.) World Authors 1980-1985. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1991.
  • Connaughton, Michael E. "Charles Portis," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume American Novelists Since World War Two, second series. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 6: American Novelists since World WarII, second series, Gale (Detroit), 1980.
  • Idol, John L. "Charles (McColl) Portis (1933-)," Contemporary Fiction Writers of the South: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1993.
  • Magill, Frank N. Magill's Survey of American Literature, Volume 5. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1991.
  • Twentieth-Century Western Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit), 1991.
  • Updating the Literary West: A Supplement to A Literature History of the West. (See Bob Frye Chapter.) October 1997 by Texas Christian University Press.
  • Wolfe, Tom, The New Journalism, Harper (New York City), 1973, p. 9.
Periodicals about the author (alphabetical)
Miscellaneous
Acknowledgements
Contributors
  • Thanks to Professor Vesterman of the English department at Rutgers University for introducing me and several other undergraduates to Portis, and for holding a seminar focusing specifically on Portis and Tom Wolfe.
  • Thanks to my classmates whose dedicated research yielded the majority of the information on this website.
Links
  • Thanks to Vered Kleinberger of Emory University for creating an excellent website on Charles Portis, from which I'm afraid I've borrowed liberally.
  • Thanks to The Brothers Judd for pointing me toward many a review of Portis' novels.
Site 
Meter Please submit any Portis-esque information to Alex. If you feel that any of the content on this website should not be here, for any reason, please email me immediately and I will address your concern. Thanks.
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