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Charles Portis
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    (December 28, 1933-February 17, 2020)
    Born in El Dorado, Arkansas
    Reporter for the New York Herald-Tribune (1960-64)
    Best known for the novel ‘True Grit’ (1968)
    Also wrote the novels ‘Norwood’ (1966), ‘The Dog of the South’ (1979), ‘Masters of Atlantis’ (1985), and ‘Gringo’ (1991)
    He said about his decision to major in journalism, ‘I must have thought it would be fun and not very hard, something like barber college — not to offend the barbers. They probably provide a more useful service.’
    None of his other works came close to the popularity of ‘True Grit.’
    He rarely granted interviews and dodged photographers when he appeared in public.
    After John Wayne won an Oscar for portraying Rooster Cogburn in the first film adaptation of ‘True Grit,’ Portis sent him a ‘picture of some fat slob of a frontier sheriff with a big drooping mustache’ captioned, ‘This is Rooster Cogburn.’ (Noted Wayne, ‘It gave me a real letdown that I carry around to this day.’)
    He served in the Marines during the Korean War.
    His novels were noted for their deadpan humor and eccentric characters.
    ’True Grit’ was successfully adapted into films twice (1969, 2010).
    Esquire magazine called him ‘America’s least-known great writer.’
    He was the first recipient of Oxford American’s Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature Award (2010).

Credit: C. Fishel

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