Oxford American Events

50 Years of True Grit

PURCHASE TICKETS

SATURDAY, APR. 14 AND FRIDAY, APR. 20 - SATURDAY, APR. 21, 2018 | LITTLE ROCK 

The Oxford American magazine is planning a series of events, “50 Years of True Grit,” in April 2018, to celebrate the anniversary of the publication of the beloved novel by Charles Portis, one of the magazine’s most acclaimed contributors. The festivities, to take place in Little Rock (including at CALS Ron Robinson Theater) will include panel discussions, readings, tours, museum exhibits, film screenings, and a special Saturday-night variety show featuring comedy, music by Portis’s fellow Arkansas native Iris DeMent, and appearances and performances by the book’s notable fans, including Roy Blount Jr., Calvin Trillin, and Harrison Scott Key. The events are made possible in part by partnerships with the National Park Service, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Central Arkansas Library System, AY Magazine, Historic Arkansas MuseumTaziki's Mediterranean Cafe, and Petit & Keet.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

SATURDAY, APRIL 14 | 9:00 AM
**REQUIRES ADDITIONAL PURCHASE
Retracing Charles Portis’s True Grit in Arkansas Bus Tour
In partnership with Arkansas Times, featuring Joey Lauren Adams, Jay Jennings, and Smokey & The Mirror
TGbusTrip2

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 | 10:30 AM at RON ROBINSON THEATRE
FREE EVENT
True Grit, the American Frontier, and the Indian Territory: Historical Context
Dr. Daniel Littlefield, Sequoyah National Research Center, University of Arkansas - Little Rock; Larry Foley, journalism professor, University of Arkansas - Fayetteville

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 | 12:30 PM at RON ROBINSON THEATRE
FREE EVENT
Translating Charles Portis to Film
Screenwriting panel with Graham Gordy (screenwriter and creator of Quarry), Dr. Kristi McKim (film studies and English professor at Hendrix College), and Katrina Whalen, director of I Don’t Talk Service No More. 

True Grit   1969 02FRIDAY, APRIL 20 | 6:00 PM at RON ROBINSON THEATER
BUY TICKETS
A screening of the 1969 film made from True Grit, directed by Hal Wallis and starring Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall, and John Wayne, in his only Oscar-winning performance, followed by a discussion with Scott Eyman, biographer and author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend.

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 | 10:00 PM at WHITE WATER TAVERN
REQUIRES GOLD PASS
Late-night after-party at the famed Little Rock bar and performance venue The White Water Tavern, featuring music by Wussy and The Paranoid Style, comedy by Eddie Pepitone, and more.

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 | 10:00 AM at RON ROBINSON THEATRE
FREE EVENT
Writers Panel: The Literary Genius of Charles Portis
Featuring Roy Blount Jr., Calvin Trillin, and book critic Katherine A. Powers.
TGAuthorsPanel

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 | 11:30 AM at HISTORIC ARKANSAS MUSEUM
FREE EVENT
True Grit: Fact & Fiction
Michael Groomer, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Chief of Interpretation
Cody Faber, Fort Smith National Historic Site

True Grit   2010SATURDAY, APRIL 21 | 1:30 PM at RON ROBINSON THEATER
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A matinee screening of the 2010 version of True Grit, directed by Joel & Ethan Coen and starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Hailee Steinfeld, followed by a discussion with a special guest.

 

TGDeMentKeySATURDAY, APRIL 21 | 8:00 PM at RON ROBINSON THEATER
BUY TICKETS
Music, Voices & Double-Rectified Busthead: A True Grit Variety Show
A once-in-a-lifetime Saturday-night variety show featuring music by Iris DeMent, readings from True Grit, and tributes from celebrity fans, including Roy Blount Jr., Calvin Trillin, and Harrison Scott Key, among other surprise guests.

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 | 10:00 PM at RON ROBINSON THEATRE
REQUIRES GOLD PASS
Late-night after-party in the Arcade Room at Ron Robinson Theatre, closing out a festive weekend. Food by Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe and Petit & Keet.

For updates on this event, our special guests, and the on-sale date for tickets, check back to this webpage and/or be sure to sign up for updates directly to your inbox via our Oxford American Presents e-newsletter.

IrisDeMent TrueGrit Photo JOOMLAIris DeMent


Published by Simon & Schuster in 1968 (after it was first serialized in the Saturday Evening Post), True Grit earned immediate popularity and critical praise as a rousing frontier adventure tale in which fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross seeks to avenge her father’s murder with the aid of a down-at-the-heels federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn. Over the past half-century, readers of all ages have come to treasure the book as a classic of American literature. The book has inspired two award-winning films—the 1969 version, which earned John Wayne his sole Academy Award, and the 2010 remake by Joel and Ethan Coen starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges.

“So few books stand the test of time but True Grit’s literary reputation and its popularity have only grown in fifty years,” said Jay Jennings, a senior editor at the Oxford American and editor of the collection Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany. “We thought the book’s landmark anniversary deserved a big celebration in the state that is the setting for much of the book and the home of both the author and the magazine.” Portis has published a number of humor pieces in the Oxford American and in 2010 was awarded the magazine’s inaugural prize for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Literature. 

Among the many writers who have hailed True Grit as a touchstone of American storytelling are the following:

“Mattie’s voice, wry and sure, is one of the great creations of modern American fiction. I put it up there with Huck Finn’s, and that is not hyperbole.”
George Pelacanos, crime novelist and TV writer (The Wire), on NPR

“[T]here are the books we love so much that we read them every year or two, and know passages of them by heart; that cheer us when we are sick or sad and never fail to amuse us when we take them up at random; that we press on all our friends and acquaintances; and to which we return again and again with undimmed enthusiasm over the course of a lifetime. I think it goes without saying that most books that engage readers on this very high level are masterpieces; and this is why I believe that True Grit by Charles Portis is a masterpiece.
Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch and the voice of the True Grit audiobook, in an afterword to a recent edition of True Grit

“I love [True Grit] so much, and the thought that I was going to get to reread it made me happy. And now that I actually am rereading it, it’s just such a pleasure.”
Michael Chabon, author of The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, in the Globe and Mail (Toronto)