Fiction

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Entries - Entry Category: Fiction - Starting with P

Painted House, A

A Painted House is a book which takes place in Arkansas and was written by bestselling author John Grisham. It was based on his childhood in Arkansas, and when the book was made into a television movie, it was filmed in Arkansas. Born in Jonesboro (Craighead County) on February 8, 1955, and raised in northeast Arkansas near Black Oak (Craighead County), Grisham created an evocative portrait of the time and place of his childhood in A Painted House. Set in 1952 Arkansas, it is a departure from his usual legal thriller style, with Grisham writing, “There is not a single lawyer, dead or alive, in this story. Nor are there judges, trials, courtrooms, conspiracies or nagging social issues.” In 2000, …

Pendleton, Donald Eugene (Don)

Donald Eugene Pendleton was a pulp fiction, action, science fiction, and mystery writer best known for the Executioner series books, which centered on the character Mack Bolan, who waged a one-man war against the Mafia. Pendleton is generally credited with creating the action-adventure genre in the 1970s. Don Pendleton was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 12, 1927, to Louis Thomas Pendleton, a machinist, and Drucy Valentine. On December 7, 1942, Pendleton lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, days before his fifteenth birthday. He served as a radioman first class until November 1947. He served in all the war theaters and received several medals, including the Naval Commendation Medal, Iwo Jima, in 1945. He …

Piazza, Ben Daniel

Ben Daniel Piazza was an actor, director, author, and playwright who was compared to the young Marlon Brando in his youth but achieved acclaim for character roles in his later years, often portraying an edgy, tightly controlled suburbanite or a repressive parent in films such as The Blues Brothers. He began acting in 1952 during his college days at Princeton University and worked steadily in theater, film, and television until his death in 1991. Ben Piazza was born on July 30, 1933, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Charles Piazza, a shoe repairman, and Elfreida Piazza, a homemaker. He was one of nine children, having two sisters and six brothers. He graduated from Little Rock High School (later Central High …

Plum Thicket, The

The Plum Thicket was Janice Holt Giles’s seventh book (her sixth novel) and the first to be set in her home state of Arkansas. It was first published in 1954 by Houghton Mifflin. The Plum Thicket was a deviation from the anticipated continuation of a series of historical novels about the settlement of Kentucky, which had begun with the publication of The Kentuckians in 1953 and would resume with publication of Hannah Fowler (1956) and The Believers (1957). Giles felt compelled to write the book following a pilgrimage to her paternal grandparents’ home place in Arkansas near Charleston (Franklin County), a place she had visited often as a child. The story told in the book is fictional but has some …

Portis, Charles McColl

One of the finest of Arkansas’s fiction writers, Charles McColl Portis was best known for the western novel True Grit. Portis’s other novels—Norwood, The Dog of the South, Masters of Atlantis, and Gringos—are set in the twentieth century and are more purely comical. Whereas True Grit has sold copies into the millions and was made into films in 1969 and 2010 (with an Oscar-winning performance by John Wayne in the first adaptation), Portis’s other novels, though of high quality, have gone in and out of print over the years and have sold much more modestly. Portis’s protagonists are staid and ill at ease in modern society. The possibility of “true grit”—unyielding courage in the face of danger—is absent from the worlds of …

Powell, Nathan Lee (Nate)

Nathan Lee (Nate) Powell, winner of a National Book Award and an Eisner Award, is a New York Times bestselling graphic novelist. He is best known for his graphic novels Swallow Me Whole and Any Empire, which he wrote and illustrated, as well as the March series of graphic novels, co-written by Congressman John Lewis, for which he provided the art. Nate Powell was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 31, 1978. He grew up as an ardent comics fan in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), reading such titles as The ’Nam, Transformers, X-Men, Daredevil, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Appleseed, and G.I. Joe. In the 1990s, Powell became involved in the DIY (do-it-yourself) punk subculture, self-publishing a zine …

Primary Colors

Loosely based on Governor Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential bid, Joe Klein’s controversial novel Primary Colors was published anonymously in 1996. A film based on the novel was released in 1998. The controversy stemmed from the resemblance of many characters to real-life counterparts, leading many to believe that the novel must have been written by a political insider. The novel follows the presidential campaign of Governor Jack Stanton, an overweight womanizer with a gift for politics, and is narrated by Henry Burton, an idealistic young black man who quickly rises within the ranks of Stanton’s staff. Themes of the book include adultery, sexual promiscuity, idealism, politics, and the role of the media in the political process and celebrity, culminating with Burton …

Pullers

Tom Graves’s 1998 novel Pullers features rare subject matter: the sport of arm wrestling (participants refer to themselves as “pullers”). The Southern Gothic–style novel opens with an arm-wrestling contest at Bad Bill’s Hawg Trawf in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). The novel then shifts to Memphis, Tennessee, where most of the story takes place. But characters spend time on both sides of the Mississippi River, enough that Pullers should be regarded both for its Arkansas and Tennessee pedigrees. The winner of the Pine Bluff contest, Scud Matthews, makes his grand entrance at the event with a much smaller man on a leash, both wearing T-shirts that read: “We’re Queer Dear.” With his use of juxtaposition and stereotypes, Graves is primarily going …