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Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany Hardcover – October 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935106503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935106500
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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 write
r."
-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

"The overviews, tributes, and selections from Portis's work make this book just right for any reader.... His satire sings without condescension. ... He's a kind of American Chaucer." 
--Clyde Edgerton, Garden & Gun

"Escape Velocity is a major Portis event."
--Alex Heard, The New Republic



"Jay Jennings has done a great service in putting together Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany 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

"Escape Velocity pays off in more ways than I could have dreamed.... Oh my. Let's get this out of the way: it's hard to tell how it would stage, but as a read, Delray's New Moon is a fitting addition to the canon. I'd dare to call it his sixth major work. It's that funny."
--Glen David Gold, The Los Angeles Review of Books


"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

"The comparison [with Mark Twain] is apt -- more than for any other writer I can think of, including Kurt Vonnegut and H. L. Mencken."
--Maud Newton, The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

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, his first new book in more than twenty years. All the familiar Portis elements 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. The collection encompasses the breadth of his fifty-year writing career, from his gripping reportage of the civil rights movement for the New York Herald Tribune to a comic short story about the demise of journalism in the 21st century. New to even the most ardent fan is his three-act play, Delray's New Moon, performed onstage in 1996 and published here for the first time. Whether this is your first encounter with the world of Portis or a long-awaited return to it, you'll agree with critic Ron Rosenbaum--whose essay appears here alongside tributes by other writers--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."

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Get the novels and read them right now.
Denis Sevee
Portis writes in a relaxed, humorous, and informative style.
J. Fetzer
A must read for anyone or you will miss a classic.
Richard Wells

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. BAXTER on September 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Portis is perhaps our best-known unknown writer. I happen to think he ranks with Mark Twain as one of the greatest comedic writers America has ever produced. Like the editor of this collection, I too have tucked into a folder every bit of Portis' non-novelistic output that I've been able to find here and there over the years. It's great to have it now all packed into one tight volume. "Combinations of Jacksons" alone is worth the price of the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DCSusan on October 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is all the Portis miscellany collected in one book! I cannot say how happy I was to receive it. I immediately went and pitched out magazines and files with articles written by and about Portis, for now I have everything in one place. Thank you Jay Jennings and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies for this splendid collection. For those who have loved the 5 novels of Charles Portis and wished for more of Portis' works, here it is. The book even has something new in the play "Delray's New Moon."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. P. Warren on October 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's been two decades since we got a peek into the fictional world of Charles Portis, the author of "True Grit" and four other highly acclaimed novels. But his new book "Escape Velocity" fills the gap nicely. The book brings together in one place almost everything that Portis has written outside the novels, both never-before-published work and hard-to-find stories that fans have known about for years and that new readers will delight in discovering.
The book also contains a full-length, three-act play, "Delmar's New Moon", previously unpublished, which shows off Portis's trademark dead-pan style. Especially interesting are the non-fiction pieces, including some he wrote for newspapers during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and a long essay, "Combinations of Jacksons". These early pieces show the writing style that later shaped his fiction.
This is a must-have book for Portis fans and a thoughtful introduction for those new to the work of Charles Portis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Denis Sevee on November 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of us around...Charles Portis fans, that is. Some clever journalist called us Portisheads. For years we have been obliged to read and reread the same five novels. We read them in chronological order, or in alphabetical order, or from back to front, or in inverse order by the weight. Not an onerous task for us, but we are always searching in literary reviews for some little news item which announces that such-and-such a publisher has announced a new Portis novel, soon to be released. Well, it hasn't happened yet but "Escape Velocity" assembles a collection of short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, written by Portis over the years. I was worried that these smaller works wouldn't live up to the quality of his novels but I was happy to find that they constitute a worthy sixth volume to place alongside the 5 novels. For example, from a memoir, an old man in a bar in New Mexico: "...he said that over in neighboring Arizona there happened to be certain chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous which allowed you to drink two cans of beer every day, what they call a maintenance dose." Or, from a short story, describing a fictional dictator: "At night, after a light supper of a single warmed-over beancake, he liked to retire to the ballroom for an hour or so of running hist fist up and down the white keys of a piano." I offer no apology, I love that stuff.
If you haven't read Portis then: What is wrong with you? Have you no sense of humor? Get the novels and read them right now. Then get "Escape Velocity". If you have read Portis, then have no fear. The short pieces in "Escape Velocity" contain plenty of his great prose style and humor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Simons on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I told my journalism teacher: "If we could have written to please you the way we wanted to please you, we would have written like Charles Portis."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. ORourke on February 23, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An absolute must for any fan. It is hard to describe, but the man cannot be uninteresting. This includes almost everything the editor could find, and it is all worth it. His reporting on the racial struggles and desegregation in the south is unforgettable - he has led quite a life. Thank you for going to all the trouble to put this together for us. I only wish it were 1000+ pages. When I get back home I am rereading my collection again starting with my favorite, Dog of the South.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert H Weidman on January 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An indispensable collection of varied writings by a favorite author of mine. As editor Jay McInerney says, Portis is one of America's best unknown authors! I hope he has more left for us to enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Hartney on November 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Portis captures the essence of people and place with an understated, concise pen. While I loved True Grit, I am really fond of his newspaper pieces. Fine reading. Good collection.
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