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
-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."