Reader Roger Franklin writes with a kind word from down under in connection with Stephen Hunter’s review of True Grit:
I greatly enjoyed the review of the new True Grit, which I cannot wait to see when it is released here in Australia. After that, well, I will be saying novenas in the hope that the Great Producer prompts the brothers to take up the Charles Portis novel to which only they could do justice.
I’m speaking of Gringos, which is one of my favourites — and a favourite of a good many other folks. I know this because of the empty space on my bookshelf, which has so far hosted four editions. Whenever I lend a copy to a friend, that person is so enthused that the book passes inevitably to his or her friends.
It is annoying, but not that much. As someone who has penned a couple of (non-fiction) books, I know those replacement copies are putting additional royalties in the pocket of a deserving recipient. And the knowledge that I am helping more people to discover Portis is, I hope, one of the good works that Santa may reward tomorrow.
If you haven’t read Gringos, give yourself a treat and do so. Meanwhile, I will continue to offer prayers that the Coens do likewise. There is not a chance in the world they would not make it a movie after that.
Kind regards and best wishes for a jolly Christmas and new year of splendid blog posts.
Published in 1991, Gringos is Portis’s last published novel. I thought Portis was long gone, but the New York Times Magazine recently carried an engaging profile of him by Boston College’s Carlo Rotella. There is a reason Portis has slipped from view. He hasn’t published anything lately, and he doesn’t believe in promoting himself or his novels.
Portis agreed to meet with Professor Rotella near Portis’s home in Little Rock, but not to let Rotella quote him directly. Rotella explains parenthetically: “He had stipulated that our meeting was not an interview and I could not quote him directly, and he confessed to the mutual friend who put us in touch that it pained him to impose such conditions, because he didn’t want to be the kind of guy who imposes conditions.”