An excerpt from a play by Charles Portis, with an introduction by Jay Jennings.
MR. PALFREY: Oh, I know what I want. I just don’t see it here. What I want is a fat yearling coon roasted with some sweet potatoes. What I want, young lady, is some salt-cured ham that’s been hanging in the smokehouse for about two years, along with five or six big cathead biscuits, and some country butter and ribbon cane surrup. But I can’t get that, can I?
KATE: You can’t get it here.
Among my mother’s effects that I found after her death was a datebook for the year 1944: her diary. An erratic diary keeper myself, I noted the neatness of her initial entry—even lines, full loops in cursive letters, thoughtful punctuation—a common enough trait at the start of a writerly journey, all optimism and hope and clarity, before the messiness of life intrudes.