The 50th anniversary of Portis' 'Norwood' | Rock Candy

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The 50th anniversary of Portis' 'Norwood'

Posted By on Thu, May 19, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Charles Portis in 2010. - RETT PEEK
  • Rett Peek
  • Charles Portis in 2010.
Former Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist and features writer Kyle Brazzel, who left Little Rock to work for the business side of the New Yorker and now does freelance writing, has an excellent appreciation at The Awl of Charles Portis' first novel, "Norwood," on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. 

Portis’s singular achievement with Norwood has nothing to do with narrative scope or depth of feeling, but in establishing and sustaining tone in a comedy of manners where no two characters subscribe to the same set of them. This, in particular, seems to have tripped ["Norwood" film director Jack] Haley up. (Though casting the country singer Glenn Campbell as Norwood Pratt didn’t help.) In an exchange at a roadside diner, a cheerful waitress asks Campbell, as Pratt, for his order. “A cup of coffee, I guess,” he replies. “I’ll put in my own cream.” Campbell adds this last bit, a throwaway in the scene, with a kind of sheepish pride, like a little boy who’s pushed the elevator button by himself. But here’s how it goes in print: “Norwood snapped at the counter girl for putting cream in his coffee. She said she didn’t know where he was from but if you wanted it black you had to say so. He told her he was from a place where they let you put your own cream in your coffee. From little syrup pitchers with spring lids.” The highly specific irritability Haley scrubbed from Norwood the movie may be another reason its source material can feel underappreciated. But, that’s entertainment.
Fans of Brazzel (he had a following when he wrote a weekly column for the High Profile section), should also check out his essay on Wonder Woman

Tags: ,



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

Readers also liked…

  • Coming Monday: Little Rock Black Restaurant Week

    MoTown Monday is Ceci's Chicken and Waffles. Tasty Tuesday is Sims BBQ and Brewster's Soul Food Cafe. Wing Wednesday is Chicken King and Chicken Wangs. Soul Food Thursday is Lindsey's BBQ and Hospitality House and Food Truck Festival Friday is @station801. It's the first Black Restaurant Week.
    • Mar 8, 2017
  • New music from Isaac Alexander

    New music from Isaac Alexander.
    • Jul 14, 2017
  • No Small Talk Ep. 8: Katy Henriksen, Springs Arts preview

    A packed episode this week of "No Small Talk": a chat with Katy Henriksen, from Of Note on KUAF; Stephanie Smittle breaks down the Spring Arts issue; and we finish up with just a tiny bit of Oscar chatter.
    • Mar 9, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation