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ESCAPE VELOCITY

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. Whether this is your first dip into the world of Portis or a long-awaited return to it, you’ll agree with critic Ron Rosenbaum that Portis “will come to be regarded as the author of classics on the order of a twentieth-century Mark Twain, a writer who captures the soul of America.”

 

ONE OF THE BEST REVIEWED BOOKS OF 2012

BOOK OF THE YEAR, BOOKS & CULTURE
 

“My heart soared when I learned about Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. It brings together pieces that we cultists have been passing around like samizdat literature.... He’s our funniest living writer.”

—John Powers, NPR’s “Fresh Air”

 

“I tore through Escape Velocity and then went back and read most of the works again, because they are that compelling.”

—Alex Balk, The Awl

 

“Jay Jennings has done a great service in putting together Escape Velocity and providing it with an excellent introduction and appreciation.... Delray’s New Moon, the single example here of Portis as a dramatist, is a wonderful black comedy and tour de force of inspired dialog.”

—Katherine A. Powers, The Barnes & Noble Review

 

Escape Velocity is “a thoughtfully composed selection of published work spiced with rare and fresh material.... Portis really shines in this collection as an essayist, especially as a travel writer....” 

—Carlo Rotella, The New York Times Book Review

 

“The book’s introduction, which notes the hallmarks of Mr. Portis’s brand of humor without talking them to death, provides an ideal primer for readers coming to Mr. Portis fresh.... His newspaper writing is as richly textured as any of the New Journalism that emerged in the 1960s but with none of the fireworks that betray the writer’s effort at innovation.” 

—Wes Davis, Wall Street Journal

 

“No other writer can so accurately be compared to greats as diverse as Twain, Garcia Marquez, Chaucer and McCarthy. Portis easily lives up to these laurels while remaining his own man, as displayed in the reportage, short fiction and drama assembled here by fellow Arkansan Jennings.”

Publishers Weekly

 

“Mr. Portis is a soft-spoken American genius and his work breathes pure decency. They ought to name a hotel after him, or at least a bus station.” 

—Garrison Keillor