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Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany

3.94  ·  Rating Details  ·  159 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
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.
ebook, 380 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (first published January 1st 2012)
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Michael Jarvis
Apr 11, 2014 Michael Jarvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no one like Charles Portis in American letters.
He wrote five novels, all of which are revered in different orders of preference by his ardent fans. Perhaps a main reason for this is simply that they are funny. Not just funny, as in amusing, but laugh out loud funny. I say this obviously as one who finds his writing singularly appealing. There is a quirky exactness in the dialogue and descriptions which is his alone, and makes this reader feel fortunate to have encountered his books.

Jan 04, 2013 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, essays, anthology
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

There's not a lot out there for die-hard Charles Portis fans. The five novels are thankfully back in print, but that's it, because that's all he's written. Other than, that is, a few hard-to-find short stories, a brief memoir, a play, and newspaper reportage from his days as a working journalist.

Editor Jay Jenkins has tracked down and assembled these short pieces in this anthology. It's must reading for Portis fans ... I certainly felt it was a must-read, at any rate ...
Aaron Arnold
Anyone who would consider picking this "miscellany" up is almost by definition a Portis die-hard already, but although it wouldn't make a very good introduction to his work for a newbie, it's still worth a read if you've already plowed through all five of his novels. According to the Introduction, this was born out of a collection that a Portis superfan (who like me was first introduced to him through The Dog of the South) had been slowly accumulating in a file cabinet, which is impressive consi ...more
Patrick McCoy
Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany (2012) edited by Jay Jennings might only be of interest to those of what Ron Rosenbaum calls, from his essay included in the appendix "Our Least-Known Great Novelist," the Society of Portis. This and two other seminal essays, Roy Blount Jr.'s "Comedy in Earnest" and Ed Park's comprehensive "Like Cormac McCarthy, but Funny," extolling the virtues of the prose of Charles Portis. In fact Park uses many of the miscellany included in this book to tell the ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
One of the joys of reading Charles Portis is that he has written only five books, and all of them are superb. You can pretty much dip your fishing line in anywhere and catch something great. The sadness of it is that the pleasure is very self-contained; once you've read them all, you'll never get to read them for the first time again. The mystery of watching these disparate tales unfold, most of them markedly different from the other, will add a lot of enjoyment to your life, but once you've fin ...more
May 14, 2013 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-love
Masie Cochran (Associate Editor, Tin House Books): I’m partial to Portis, party because he’s from Arkansas, earning his journalism degree in my hometown of Fayetteville. The title of the collection comes from my favorite Portis novel, Dog of the South: “A lot of people leave Arkansas and most of them come back sooner or later. They can’t quite achieve escape velocity.”

Portis’ newspaper reporting and writing has been, so far, the biggest treat. He covers the death of Elvis Presley’s mother, a hos
Sep 02, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When my dog was a puppy, she chewed two or three library books so severely that they could not be repaired and I had to pay for them. My dog has exceptional taste because she chewed up only Charles Portis books. I've read three of his five novels-Norwood, The Dog of the South and True Grit-each of which I consider a classic, so I was excited to get my hands on Escape Velocity. The book is accurately labeled as a miscellany because it contains a little bit of everything: straight reporting, longe ...more
Jun 25, 2014 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this in parts, but mostly, I was left wanting. Portis' news reporting is interesting, not only for the material, but for how clearly his voice rings out, even as he is documenting events rather than creating characters and stories. His travel writing, too, reads like fiction. The short stories and memoir are probably the highlights of the book, although the stories are perhaps too short. The play did not grab me at all; perhaps it works better on stage, but on the page it was a surpris ...more
Apr 23, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly, for me, an intriguing introduction to Portis. It's a mixed bag, short fiction, a play, journalism, a lengthy interview, so perhaps not the most gripping read overall (too easy to put down and not pick up again for a while). But having really enjoyed True Grit, this book certainly adds to the incentive to seek out those other four novels. As an encouragement to newcomers to Portis, it definitely does its job.
Dec 10, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Portis fan since the late 60's, so I'm glad I bought this book. It's a must-read for all Portis fans, because he's only written 5 novels and we've all read those backwards and forwards, right? This gives us hungry fans a chance to read his past essays, short stories and a play. It is true, Charles Portis is one of the best writers of our time, and the most "under recognized". Not because he's reclusive. Refreshingly, he's a modest man and doesn't toot his own horn. He's not a slave t ...more
I'm in the Portis fan club. Norwood is one of the funniest novels I have ever read -- period. Though Portis' droll wit, his spot on presentation of southern dialogue, and his eye for mid-2oth century southern culture does not strike everyone as so funny. This collection of his work takes you deeper into Portis' complete work (journalism, occasional pieces, interviews), and tells a lot more about the writer as person (Portis has been fairly reclusive as a fiction writer). For my money, I'd stick ...more
Feb 01, 2014 Philipp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always good, our Mr. Portis. Even this collection of previously uncollected things. Fun details, all quirky. Hadn't realized before how much of his writing was about car care.
Dec 09, 2012 Rupert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portis is mind-blowingly readable. Even his early journalistic pieces here resonate with characters that jump off the page and details that put you right in the scene.

His travel stories are my favorite here. Would love to do a tour of Route 66 with him. Is there still hope that he will publlsh another novel?

I will re-read the play here, "Delray's New Moon", ten years from now to give me courage with the aging process. The ending may be a bit pat, but the characters aren't and the writing has do
Apr 15, 2015 Cary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, among other things, there's an amazing article on the Nashville Sound.
Adam  McPhee
Kind of disappointed in myself for not liking this as much as I thought I would? Though there were some great bits, like his coverage of the civil rights movement/desegregation in the American South in the 60s, the Elvis bit, and the short story I Don't Talk Service No More. But a lot of it also left me cold: the Nashville stuff, Your Action Line, and that history of the rivers in the south I could give or take.

I don't know. I keep telling myself I'm not done with this book and that I'll come b
May 14, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of Portis, I was happy to get my hands on anything he's written and this collection of his newspaper and magazine articles and even a play was an enjoyable read. Highlights for me was his article from Westways magazine describing his journey from Los Angeles to the tip of Baja California in a decrepit Studebaker pickup truck and the semi-autobiographical "Combinations of Jacksons", which you can read for yourself here
Jan 19, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I get frustrated when I can't figure out why I laugh at Charles Portis' humor. Maybe it's because I somehow relate to it. I about did a spit take on page 153 of my 1st edition copy of this book. What's more frustrating is wondering why other people might not understand why Charles Portis is so funny. I'm still reading and only half way through but this book already gets 5 stars. Some of it I don't get but maybe will after a re-read.
Teri Zipf
Jan 26, 2013 Teri Zipf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This is a book for people who have read everything by Charles Portis and now their whole world is kind of empty and they see this and they buy it knowing it is going to slightly disappoint, and it does, but it's better than nothing. The ebook version, which is what I have, is horribly formatted. I'm getting so tired of paying full price for a book that hasn't been copy edited. But that's not Portis' fault.
Bro_Pair أعرف
Aug 11, 2014 Bro_Pair أعرف rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: screwjob
This is it - this is the guy to beat. The peerless writer. The Bard of Little Rock. His reportage on the murder of Medgar Evers, the beautiful, possibly neo-Confederate "Combinations of Jacksons," the travel stories through Baja California and America's motels. You fools who would anoint people like Philip Roth! You don't deserve Charles "Buddy" Portis
Feb 21, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't read any Portis, I'd recommend starting with the novels (I'd go with "The Dog of the South").
That being said, this is a pretty great collection, with many pieces that haven't been re-published in years, and one (his play "Delray's New Moon")that is available for the first time.
Shawn Kerivan
Dec 26, 2013 Shawn Kerivan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This assemblage of Portis's work by Jan Jennings is indispensable for accessing much of Portis's other writings. His travelogues are astonishing for their ability to combine exquisite details with a good story.
Nov 11, 2013 Danny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portis' writing has this beautiful simplicity. Reading his non-fiction work for the first time, it's obvious that this detailed efficiency that carried over into his fiction owed a debt to his years as a reporter and feature writer. It's well worth your attention.
Jan 16, 2013 Ted rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff. It often got me to break out laughing so I really could read it in public.

I've got NORWOOD and MASTERS OF ATLANTIS on reserve at the KCPL. I'll pick them upon Friday.
erik d aker
Feb 03, 2013 erik d aker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
one of the best writers: sarcastic and funny but self-deprecating. he doesn't use his writing to eviscerate anyone. he just seems to like people, and it's really refreshing. and hilarious.
Sep 21, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved his Civil Rights and travel stories.
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Jan 29, 2016
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Charles McColl Portis was born in 1933, in El Dorado Arkansas and was raised in various towns in southern Arkansas. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean war and after his discharge in 1955 attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated with a degree in journalism in 1958.

His journalistic career included work at the Arkansas Gazette before he moved to New York to work
More about Charles Portis...

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