Thursday, July 17, 2014

Traveling Arkansas on the trail of 'True Grit'

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 6:54 AM

'TRUE GRIT' FOOSTEPS: Novelist Charles Porits, shown here with John Wayne in the original movie "True Grit," inspires a road trip. - PARAMOUNT
  • Paramount
  • 'TRUE GRIT' FOOSTEPS: Novelist Charles Porits, shown here with John Wayne in the original movie "True Grit," inspires a road trip.

The New York Times Sunday travel section, on-line now, includes a feature article by Arkansas writer Jay Jennings in which he visits the real places that inspired Charles Portis' "True Grit."

It starts in a Fort Smith barroom (well, Doe's restaurant).

By downing a whiskey in the winter in this rough-stone building, constructed in 1851 by Joseph Knoble as a brewery and now on the National Register of Historic Places, I was coming as close as I could in the present day to replicating the venue and circumstances that caused “a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney” to gun down Frank Ross in this town and start the revenge quest of 14-year-old Mattie Ross in Charles Portis’s classic novel “True Grit.”

The trip loops from Fort Smith through Oklahoma. Oh, and by the way, Doe's tamales figure in the enterprise. Tamales were sold at a hanging depicted in Portis' novel.

It's a tribute to a fine book, a travelogue, a good read. It should inspire others drawn into a popular revival of interest in the book thanks to the Coen brothers' remake of the original movie starring John Wayne.

click to enlarge GRITTY COUNTRY: In search of Rooster Cogburn. - NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times
  • GRITTY COUNTRY: In search of Rooster Cogburn.

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Speaking of True Grit, Charles Portis

  • Charles Portis' "Norwood" at 50: A Review

    August 4, 2016
    The 50th Anniversary celebration of Portis' "Norwood" is precisely the type of unique, multifaceted, Southern-focused programming that many of us have hoped to see from the partnership between Oxford American and South on Main. /more/
  • Oxford American celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Portis' "Norwood"

    June 22, 2016
    Oxford American Magazine hosts a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Charles Portis' debut novel, "Norwood." /more/
  • Read a rare interview with Charles Portis about his Arkansas days

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    Jay Jennings' invaluable Charles Portis collection "Escape Velocity" must have finally been published in the U.K., because the reviews are rolling in and, though universally positive, they sure can get strange. I'm sure the editor is to blame for this one, but the headline for The Spectator's review is particularly noxious: "There's so much mystery around Charles Portis that we're not even clear whether he’s alive." Journalism, etc. /more/
  • A report from the Charles Portis Gala at the Governor's Mansion

    April 4, 2014
    Last night, the Porter Fund hosted a $200-per-ticket gala to celebrate the Arkansas-born novelist Charles Portis, who was not in attendance. The Fund, started by authors Phillip McMath and Jack Butler in 1984, presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to an Arkansas author every five years, and this year they chose the author of "Norwood," "True Grit," "The Dog of the South," "Masters of Atlantis" and "Gringos," all of which were on sale at a table display in the foyer of the Governor's Mansion when I arrived at 6 p.m. /more/
  • Porter Fund to honor Charles Portis with Lifetime Achievement Award

    February 24, 2014
    The Porter Fund, founded by Little Rock novelists Jack Butler and Phil McMath in 1984, gives a Lifetime Achievement Award to an Arkansas author every five years, and this year's honoree will be Charles Portis, author of "Norwood" and "True Grit" and "Gringos" among others. Portis, notably uncomfortable with attention or public spectacle of any sort, will be celebrated with a $200-per-ticket gala at the Governor's Mansion. The night will feature readings by Jay Jennings, writer and editor of "Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany," Roy Reed, the great journalist and nonfiction writer (and former Porter winner), and Roy Blount, Jr., who once said that Portis "could be Cormac McCarthy if he wanted to, but he'd rather be funny." /more/
  • Tuesday To-Do: 'Escape Velocity' launch party

    October 8, 2012
    Main Library hosts a launch party Tuesday for "Escape Velocity," the new Charles Portis collection. /more/
  • Another week done

    October 5, 2012
    The Friday night line commences. Finishing up: * ON THE FARM: Democrat Scott Ellington goes after agricultural issues, one Republican Rep. Rick Crawford's several failings, in a new ad posted on YouTube above. /more/
  • In the spotlight: The new Charles Portis collection

    September 25, 2012
    Little Rock writer Jay Jennings has a review up now on Daily Beast about the new collection of shorter fiction and magazine articles by Little Rock's Charles Portis., "Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany." /more/
  • Coming this fall, 'Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany'

    June 13, 2012
    Butler Center Books will publish "Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany" this fall. /more/
  • 'True Grit' being remade as a porno

    September 28, 2011
    Plus, CALS and Laman add Kindle, John Oates heads to Fayetteville and the Arkansas State Fair announces its musical acts. /more/
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