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Charlis Portis Collected Works


Edited by Jay Jennings

“Pick up any novel by Portis and open it to any page and you will find something so devastatingly strange and fresh and hilarious that you will want to run into the next room and read it aloud to somebody.”

—Donna Tartt

Jay Jennings is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Lowbrow Reader, and Oxford American, where he was an editor from 2015 to 2021.

His most recent editing project is Charles Portis: Collected Works from the Library of America, published in April 2023. It contains the complete novels and much, but not all, other writing that was assembled in 2012 for Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. That collection was named Book of the Year for 2012 by Books & Culture, and the New York Times Book Review called it “a thoughtfully composed selection of published work spiced with rare and fresh material.” Jennings has recently completed a screenplay, with TV writer Graham Gordy (Rectify, Quarry), adapted from Portis’s 1979 novel, The Dog of the South. He has often spoken about True Grit and Charles Portis under the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program.

Jennings’s book Carry the Rock: Race, Football and the Soul of an American City, about the Little Rock (Ark.) Central High School football team fifty years after the 1957 integration crisis, was recently reissued in a revised edition with a new author’s preface by the University of Arkansas Press. The Wall Street Journal’s review said the book “transcends the season-on-the-brink genre.”

Portis: Collected Works
Edited by Jay Jennings

In 1964 Charles Portis left a promising career as a newspaper reporter in New York and London to return to his native Arkansas. There, working in relative obscurity, he would write the books that led critic Ron Rosenbaum to call him the “least-known great writer” in America. In five novels published over twenty-five years, Portis refined a signature deadpan style in plots full of picaresque adventure, unforgettable characters, and rich humor. This definitive Library of America collection brings together all the novels, including the... Read More
Carry the Rock by Jay Jennings
In 1957, nine African American teenagers faced angry mobs and the resistance of a segregationist governor to claim their right to educational equality. The bravery of the Little Rock Nine, as they became known, captured the country’s imagination and made history but created deep scars in the community. Jay Jennings, a veteran sportswriter and native son of Little Rock, returned to his hometown in 2007 to take the pulse of the city and the school as the fiftieth anniversary of the integration fight approached. He found a compelling story in the school’s football team, where black and white students... Read More
For those who care about literature or simply love a good laugh (or both), Charles Portis has long been one of America’s most admired novelists. His 1968 novel True Grit is fixed in the contemporary canon, and four more have been hailed as comic masterpieces. Now, for the first time, his other writings—journalism, travel stories, short fiction, memoir, and even a play—have been brought together in Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. All the hallmarks of his novels are here: picaresque adventures, deadpan humor, an expert eye for detail and keen ear for the spoken word, and encounters with oddball characters both real and imagined... Read More
Tennis and the Meaning of Life is a resplendent collection of the best fiction and poetry written about this extraordinary sport/obsession. The stories are hilarious and sad, whimsical and philosophical, lyrical and profane—and thoroughly saturated with the art of the game. Fathers play against sons. Business partners attempt mutual destruction by tennis. An amateur challenges the local pro. Contributors include Roger Angell, Irwin Shaw, Vladimir Nabokov, Ring Lardner, Beryl Bainbridge, Paul Theroux, Ellen Gilchrist, Wallace Stegner, William Trevor, E.B. White, Galway Kinnell, Jim Hall and even Bill Tilden.... Read More
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