Jay Jennings is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lowbrow Reader, Garden & Gun, Travel & Leisure and Oxford American, where he is a senior editor.
His most recent editing project is Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany, which collected the reportage, travel writing, short stories and drama by the novelist best-known for True Grit. The 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 often speaks about True Grit and Charles Portis under the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read program.
Jennings’s 2010 nonfiction 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 named an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. The Wall Street Journal’s review said the book “transcends the season-on-the-brink genre.”
He began his writing career as a reporter at Sports Illustrated, followed by four years as features editor at Tennis magazine. While at the latter, he edited an anthology of short stories and poetry called Tennis and the Meaning of Life (Breakaway Books, 1999), which the New Yorker called “a delight—and perhaps a surprise—to those who know and care about literature.” His work has been recognized by The Best American Sports Writing annual and has appeared in the humor anthology Mirth of a Nation: The Best Contemporary Humor. A regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review and the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Books” section, he is a two-time MacDowell Colony fellow in fiction and a winner of a fiction grant from the Arkansas Arts Council for a novel-in-progress.
Jennings currently works in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was born and raised, as a senior editor with the Oxford American, which won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2016.
Jay Jennings speaks at the Clinton School on Carry the Rock.