Every slight got raked into a sad little pile of hurt, which is why, I think, we both laughed with such obvious scorn whenever one of our acquaintances euphorically declared their marital friendship on social media. We laughed because we secretly wanted that friendship, too, and had given up believing it was possible in this particular marriage. But it was fine. Only a few more decades of this pathetic business and we’d be dead! It’s fine!
Writers reflect on Charles Portis
He was the real thing, but he was modest about it. An awestruck fan meeting him by chance in a Little Rock bar named the Faded Rose gushed at him, praising him as a great American writer. Portis shrugged saying, “I’m not even the best writer in this bar.”
In many ways, I blame rock & roll for what happened. I discovered this unholy music in boyhood, when my Uncle Mike died an untimely death at age twenty-eight. My grandmother gave all his 8-tracks to me, music I’d never heard before: Rush, Bowie, Little Feat, Eat a Peach. The eighties pop dished out by FM radio was candied and glittering and great fun, sure, but this older music was dark and gas-powered, all fire and gravel.
“Is that all I should say at graduation?” I asked my children. “Shouldn’t I tell a story?” And they were like, “Definitely do not tell a story.” And I was like, “Why?” And they were like, “Trust us.” And that is one piece of advice I’m going to ignore, because I’m going to tell you a story.
People have gone to Texas for many reasons. In the past, people went because they were running from something, such as Johnny Law or Jerry Influenza, while others went to get rich by digging in the ground for valuable commodities, such as oil and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. As for me, I came to Texas for a much less noble reason, which was to try to be a writer.