The New York Times Sunday travel section, on-line now, includes a feature article by Arkansas writer Jay Jennings in which he visits the real places that inspired Charles Portis’ “True Grit.”

It starts in a Fort Smith barroom (well, Doe’s restaurant).


By downing a whiskey in the winter in this rough-stone building, constructed in 1851 by Joseph Knoble as a brewery and now on the National Register of Historic Places, I was coming as close as I could in the present day to replicating the venue and circumstances that caused “a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney” to gun down Frank Ross in this town and start the revenge quest of 14-year-old Mattie Ross in Charles Portis’s classic novel “True Grit.”

The trip loops from Fort Smith through Oklahoma. Oh, and by the way, Doe’s tamales figure in the enterprise. Tamales were sold at a hanging depicted in Portis’ novel.

It’s a tribute to a fine book, a travelogue, a good read. It should inspire others drawn into a popular revival of interest in the book thanks to the Coen brothers’ remake of the original movie starring John Wayne.