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Charles Portis Biography, with Anecdote

While reading up on author Charles Portis, I came upon the transcript of a lengthy interview he did with Roy Reed in 2001. The interview was for a project about the history of Little Rock’s Gazette, a newspaper Portis worked at in 1958.

Charles Portis went on to become a novelist. He wrote The Dog of the South and True Grit.

You can find the interview by way of this unofficial tribute to Portis.

While the two of them are reminiscing about the old days at the Gazette, Portis relates an amusing anecdote about a prank played on a colleague, Pat Owens.

After describing Pat’s fondness for making prank phone calls, Portis says “we turned the tables on him once. Do you remember a guy on the copy desk named Don — something or other?”

REED: Yes.

PORTIS: Out of California, I think. A heavy drinker. He slept on Pat’s couch when he couldn’t remember where he lived. Anyway, he left, went back to California or Oregon. Then Jim Bailey and I wrote a letter to Pat, purporting to come from Don, saying he had married a woman with three or four kids, and they were making their way back across the country, in an old car, staying with friends along the way. They were now in Beaumont, Texas, getting the car repaired, and were looking forward to a good long stay in Little Rock at Pat’s house. We arranged to have the letter mailed in Beaumont. I think Paul Johnson knew someone there. We let Pat sweat it out for a week or so, after he got the letter. Waiting for Don.

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