From a New York Times online article (Feb 17, 2020):
Charles Portis, Elusive Author of ‘True Grit,’ Dies at 86 The publicity-shy Mr. Portis earned a modest but devoted readership and accolades as America’s “least-known great writer.”Charles Portis, the publicity-shy author of “True Grit” and a short list of other novels that drew a cult following and accolades as the work of possibly the nation’s best unknown writer, died on Monday at a hospice in Little Rock, Ark.
He was 86.His death was confirmed by his brother Jonathan, who said Mr. Portis had been in hospice care for two years and in an Alzheimer’s care facility for six years prior.Mr. Portis was in his early 30s and well established as a reporter at The New York Herald Tribune in 1964, when he decided to turn to fiction full time. The decision astonished his friends and colleagues at the paper, among them Jimmy Breslin, Tom Wolfe and Nora Ephron.He had covered the civil rights movement in the South: riots in Birmingham, Ala.; the jailing of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Albany, Ga.; Gov. George C. Wallace’s attempt to stop the desegregation of the University of Alabama.
From a New Yorker online article (February 5, 2020):
He was the real thing, the last of the great middle-European intellectual journeyers, one with Benjamin and Cioran and the other exiles, for whom books were the one constant country and reading them a matter of life and death. With him gone, we can only reread his writing, determined to honor the intensity of his commitment by intensifying our own.
The word “awesome” is most easily used by adolescents these days, but the range of learning that the critic and novelist George Steiner possessed was awesome in the old-fashioned, grown-up sense: truly, genuinely awe-inspiring. Steiner, who died on Monday, at the age of ninety, knew modern languages, ancient languages, classical literature, and modern literature. He had memorized the rhymes of Racine and he could elucidate the puns in Joyce and he could tell you why both were, in his thorny but not cheaply won view, superior to the prolixities of Shakespeare. He was what many people call a human encyclopedia—not in the American sense, a blank vault of facts, but in the French Enlightenment one: a critical repository of significant knowledge.
On Meet The Writers this week, Georgina Godwin talks to John ‘Rick’ MacArthur about his new book ‘Graham Greene: The Last Interview’.
Rick is the scion of a great American philanthropic family but, in his own right, a veteran journalist, author and president of ‘Harper’s Magazine’, the second oldest continuous publication in the US. We take a look at how Graham Greene traversed the space between journalism and fiction and brought truth into sharp focus through his storytelling.