Charles Portis

It was a big year for a novelist who hasn’t put out a book in 20 years. In April, the Oxford American gave Charles Portis $10,000 as part of its Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature Award at a big fete at the Capital Hotel. He showed up, in a suit and tie, ducked out and returned more than an hour later in a Members Only jacket, claiming he “forgot all about this.” Our correspondent Jaman Matthews overheard Portis answer a woman who asked him about the Coen brothers’ remake of “True Grit.” “I’m all for it,” he said, “as long as the checks don’t bounce.” That was as close to on-the-record as he came in the press coverage surrounding the film of “True Grit.” He gave an interview to the New York Times Magazine, but only on the condition that he not be quoted. Thankfully, the Coens’ excellent and entirely faithful adaptation is likely to clean up at the box office and receive attention at awards ceremonies. Which, hopefully, will help launch Portis out of cult status into his deserving place among the pantheon of great American novelists.