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Extended Audio Sample Norwood, by Charles Portis Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (889 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Portis Narrator: Barrett Whitener Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Norwood, the first novel by the long-acclaimed Charles Portis, is an outstanding example of the cool wit and unique style that has made Portis one of America’s greatest writers.

Out of the American neon desert of rollerdromes, chili parlors, the Grand Ole Opry, and girls who want to “live in a trailer and play records all night” comes an ex-marine and troubadour, Norwood Pratt. Sent on a mission to New York by Grady Fring, “the Kredit King,” Norwood has visions of “speeding across the country in a late-model car, seeing all the sights.” Instead, he gets involved in a wild journey that takes him in and out of stolen cars, freight trains, and buses. By the time he returns home to Ralph, Texas, Norwood has met his true love, Rita Lee, on a Trailways bus; befriended Edmund B. Ratner, the second shortest midget in show business and “the world’s smallest perfect fat man”; and helped Joann, “the chicken with a college education,” to realize her true potential in life. As with all of Portis’ fiction, the tone is cool, sympathetic, funny, and undeniably American.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Norwood is my favorite book. Not just my favorite book by Charles Portis, which is a tough call. My favorite book: which, given the first call, is easy. This book should be in every home.”

    Roy Blount, Jr.

  • “Charles Portis is perhaps the most original, indescribable sui generis talent overlooked by literary culture in America. A writer who, if there’s any justice in literary history…will come to be regarded as the author of classics on the order of a twentieth-century Mark Twain.”


  • “Portis’ characters—especially his wandering hero Norwood Pratt—exude a kind of perennial American freshness…Barrett Whitener’s narration is exceptional…This is a narrator whose work should be followed and anticipated with pleasure.”


  • “This quick, hilarious novel is a genuinely entertaining introduction to Portis’ comic brilliance. Imagine Evelyn Waugh as a southerner writing a Seinfeld episode while sipping Mint Juleps on a hot July afternoon…Enormously deadpan and full of sneaky wit.”


  • “A fan described Charles Portis as Garrison Keillor on LSD. The day I read Keillor—on acid or otherwise—and find him even half as funny as Portis will be a cold day in hell. Portis’ two comic classics, Norwood and The Dog of the South, have a wonderful, subtle humor not found anywhere today.”

    The Stranger

  • A 2013 Washington Post Best Audiobook

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Katywittmann | 2/20/2014

    " I don't know if I would have liked this book so much if Chase didn't really like it. The more we talked about it the more I liked it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Beth Favini | 2/15/2014

    " Some great chuckles...I enjoyed the language and wit.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Karen | 2/12/2014

    " Another comic highlight. Portis is wonderful, inimitable. He can tell a story about nothing like no one else I know. George Saunders has inherited some of this, but Saunders can be a little more brittle and mannered, his characters and situations more surreal. Portis is interested in all the little details of ordinary, not-always-so-bright folks struggling with their drives and limitations, their idees fixes and confusion about the world. Like many of his other books (True Grit, Dog of the South), this is a story about a quest: Norwood's quest to find the man who owes him seventy dollars. That seventy dollars drives the story all the way to New York and back, through a cast of Portis's usual vivid, hilarious characters. This one is a little slighter than Dog of the South, and a little lighter. That's okay; it's a great novel with Portis's stamp all over it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Syco | 2/11/2014

    " Another brilliant book by Charles Portis. Norwood is a lot of fun to read. Norwood is a funny, funny character. I enjoyed his adventures across America, and wished I had been along for the ride. The ending is pretty much perfect. "

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About the Author
Author Charles Portis

Charles Portis lives in Arkansas, where he was born and educated. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. As a reporter, he wrote for the New York Herald-Tribune and was also its London bureau chief. His first novel, Norwood, was published in 1966. His other novels are True Grit, Masters of Atlantis, The Dog of the South, and Gringos.