The Editors are spiking most of my copy now, unread. One has described it as “hopeless crap.” My master’s degree means nothing to this pack of half-wits at the Blade. My job is hanging by a thread. But Frankie, an assistant city editor, is not such a bad boss and it was she who, out of the blue, gave me this choice assignment. I was startled. A last chance to make good?
An excerpt from a play by Charles Portis, with an introduction by Jay Jennings.
MR. PALFREY: Oh, I know what I want. I just don’t see it here. What I want is a fat yearling coon roasted with some sweet potatoes. What I want, young lady, is some salt-cured ham that’s been hanging in the smokehouse for about two years, along with five or six big cathead biscuits, and some country butter and ribbon cane surrup. But I can’t get that, can I?
KATE: You can’t get it here.
A Letter from the Editor, Summer 2018.
Sometimes we go on journeys just for fun, and sometimes we go because we have to, even when it’s hard. In our third annual Southern Journeys summer feature, five writers travel far and near in search of understanding: about their personal histories and roots, about our neighbors and changing landscape. Lucas Loredo, a Texan whose family escaped Castro’s regime in 1960 on the second-to-last boat allowed out of Cuba, visits Havana and the town of Nicaro in an effort to heal a painful feud. On the Cumberland Plateau, Lisa Coffman trails an infamous historical fugitive as she forms an unlikely friendship born from a love for “the peculiar character of the land itself.”
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.”
A conversation with Katrina Whalen, director of “I Don't Talk Service No More,” a film from the Charles Portis short story.
“My dad used to throw around a quote from the old John Wayne True Grit. When I was getting too big for my britches, he would say, ‘Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.’ I never had any idea what he was talking about.”
In Memory of Charles Portis
The “Words of Remembrance and Appreciation” delivered by Ernie Dumas, Portis’s longtime friend and colleague from the Arkansas Gazette, was, like the man it honored, by turns hilarious, insightful, wry, and affecting. We are grateful he has permitted us to publish a version of it here.