My good friend, writer Kaleb Horton, has his own appreciation to novelist Charles Portis out today, in Slate. I think I first recommended Portis to Kaleb, years ago now, which seems insane to me, because their sensibilities are so innately similar. I was sure Kaleb had already been influenced by Portis’s magnificent comic writing, but as we learn in his beautiful essay on the man, those parallels are the product of a shared personal background:
“I read Charles Portis, and it turned out my grandpa wasn’t unusual at all, he was just extremely from southern Arkansas, and even though he’s been in California for 65 years, he never really left it. Arkansas is a state of mind and Portis was peerless at capturing it…Portis’ novels about losers from Arkansas have aged so well because he understood something about America: we’re a profoundly individualistic country, and that makes us a country of con artists, cultists, scammers, and hustlers sitting around thinking hard about cartoons.”
It still doesn’t seem right to be a Yankee interloper between Kaleb and Buddy Portis, any more than it did to begin with, so you should just go read his essay right away.