Arkansan of the Year | Arkansas Blog

Arkansan of the Year

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I repeat my call for reader contributions to our list of notable Arkansans in our Arkansan of the Year issue scheduled Jan. 20.

John Brummett today reviews the nominees on an earlier Arkansas Blog thread and contributes an unconventional one of his own — the fictional Mattie Ross, heroine of Charles Portis' novel "True Grit" and currently on screens across the country in the movie remake.

But she’s fiction, you say. And I reply that our greatest inspirations, our most powerful influences, our most vivid mirrors on our lives, have always been rich fictional characters of compelling literature. Romeo, Juliet, Huck Finn, Atticus Finch, Holden Caulfield and, yes, Mattie Ross, who fully belongs in that company.

Nothing is truer than fiction.

Probably the most revealing, insightful and penetrating columns I have ever written — if I do say so myself — were those engaging an East Arkansas used car dealer named Bubba McCoy, who may, or may not, actually exist in the strict sense of flesh and bone.

People who say they only read nonfiction because they are serious people . . . they know not what they say, and they are anything but.

Mattie Ross, swimming that river, negotiating that horse trader into pitiable submission, championing her family, loving her daddy, going face to face with a murderer and those rattlesnakes, bringing out the best in an old curmudgeon — why, she’s the Arkansan of any year, of every year.

We could use some real-life Matties, no doubt about it. You think she's a Republican or a Democrat?

And back to Arkansans of the Year. Our political and athletic bases are pretty well covered. But what about other outstanding contributors — business, the arts, education, good deeds? Women? People of color?

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