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TRUE GRIT

About Charles Portis
Charles Portis' five novels are each classics of the literature of the Deep South, celebrated for their inventive and comical observations on American culture and character. While four of the novels are set in contemporary times, his second novel, True Grit (1968), stood apart. It hearkened back to the "Wild West” Arkansas of the 1870s, as a spinster recalls an extraordinary quest of vengeance, and the unlikely friendships with a US Marshal and a Texas Ranger, she made as a determined and inexperienced young girl who set out into the wilderness with an absolute sense of right and wrong. At once a grand, genre-busting, coming-of-age adventure and a study of steadfastness of spirit in all its forms, the book is widely considered Portis' great masterpiece, often compared to Mark Twain for its quintessentially sharp, raucous humor, its free-spirited heroine, and its sprawling American themes.

Originally serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, the book has gone on to sell millions of copies around the world and to be taught in schools. It was also adapted into a 1969 hit movie, for which John Wayne won an Academy Award®. Numerous writers, from Walker Percy, Larry McMurtry and Roy Blount, Jr. to Nora Ephron and Donna Tartt have praised the influence of Portis on American fiction. Writing in Esquire in 1998, journalist and author Ron Rosenbaum concluded: "Reading Portis is one of the great pleasures – both visceral and cerebral – available in modern literature.”

Portis' first novel was Norwood (1966), the story of a naïve Texas Marine taken in by a New York City con man, which was filmed in 1970 starring Glenn Campbell in the title role. His additional novels are The Dog of the South (1979), about a hapless Arkansas man on the trail of his runaway wife in Central America; Masters of Atlantis (1985), an account of the rise and fall of a fictional American cult; and Gringos (1991) about the loners, eccentrics and mad romantics living as American expatriates in Mexico.

Today, Portis still lives in Arkansas, where he was born (in El Dorado) and educated. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War and afterwards, became a reporter. He wrote for the New York Herald-Tribune, at a time when Tom Wolfe, Lewis Lapham and Jimmy Breslin were all cutting their teeth there, and was later the paper's London Bureau Chief. He left journalism in 1964, returned to Arkansas, and dedicated himself to fiction.

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