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The Dog of the South Paperback – 1 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (1 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074757264X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747572640
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 294,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Hilarious and heart breakingly find yourself laughing so hard in sections that tears run down your face’ -- Baltimore Sun

‘Portis is perhaps the most original, indescribable sui generis talent overlooked by literary culture in America’ -- Esquire

‘The funniest novel in decades’ -- GQ

About the Author

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mark O'Neill on 14 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Ray Midge is a man on a mission. His wife Norma has taken off with perennial nuisance Guy Dupree, the two of them crossing the country to God knows where in Ray's car. Well, Ray wants his car back. And his wife too, maybe. From this premise Charles Portis crafts a hilarious story full of memorable characters such as Dr Reo Symes whose various unworkable scams would make Del Boy blush, and his mother, intent on proving that Jesus did not turn water into alcoholic wine but "unfermented grape juice".

The Dog of the South is packed with brilliantly funny dialogue and understatedly beautiful writing. I would recommend all of Portis's wonderful books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valentine Gersbach on 4 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short novel reminds me of a cross between "Diary of a Nobody" and "On the Road".It's packed full of off beat humour at the expense of its central character and narrator who coasts nerdishly through its pages dispensing car maintenance tips and lifestyle advice to anyone unlucky enough to be collared by him.The point is that he never gets the point.

The storyline is minimal but largely irrelevant since the reader's interest is held by the parade of crackpots and catalogue of weird incidents and encounters that Ray,the narrator,experiences in his travels.Having said that,there is an impression of drift at times which poses questions about Portis's sense of direction.This impression was heightened for me by the fact that this book came in the wake of the truly brilliant "True Grit" which never for a second lacks drive.

Having made this one caveat,I must stress that the book contains many moments of eye watering humour and is well worth a read.In my experience,Portis is truly an original and supremely talented writer.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just finished Dog Of The South and I am puzzeled as to whether I liked it or not . The story is very simple : Ray Midge's wife Norma runs of with her first weirdo husband Guy Dupree and Ray's car . Ray leaves Arkansas and gives chase in an old banger that drinks oil and is held together with coathangers down through Texas and Mexico to British Honduras where he eventually finds her and his car . Not sure which was the more important find .

Along the way he meets an assortment of strange characters e.g. Dr. Symes a struck off medical practitioner who comes on board for the run down to Belize where his old mother surrounded by an assortment of eccentrics, runs her own church .
If that were all there was to it I would have given up on it , but there is more . There is fantastic , beautifully constructed , amusing dialogue and keenly drawn characters with outrageous opinions on all matters whether relevant or not .

After a while however, good as it is, I tired of the endless dialogue and lack of story advancement so to keep myself interested I tried reading it in the voice of Arlo Guthrie a la Alice's Restaurant . This worked for about another 100 pages then it became old by which time I was near the end and kept going in my own drawl to the rather predictable conclusion .

Did I enjoy it ? Well I really don't know , but I will try Charles Portis's other work so I guess that I did get something from it .
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 Jan. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The hero of THE DOG OF THE SOUTH is Ray Midge, an unemployed, twenty-six year old underachiever from Little Rock, AK. Ray's wife, Norma, has just run off with her first husband, Guy Dupree, accompanied by Ray's credit cards and his prized Ford Torino. Guided southwards towards Mexico and beyond by an elongating trail of credit card receipts, Ray sets out in Guy's abandoned and dilapidated 1963 Buick Special to recover his wheels and, almost as an afterthought, his wife.

Arriving in Mexico, Ray realizes that Guy is headed to a family-owned farm in British Honduras. While in chase, Ray makes the acquaintance of Dr. Rheo Syms, an aging and overweight scam artist, snake-oil salesman, and discredited M.D. living out of an old and immobilized school bus christened "The Dog of the South". Midge offers Syms a ride to Honduras, where the latter's mother runs a Christian mission in the nation's capital city. Mrs. Syms holds title to an undeveloped island in the Mississippi River, and Rheo needs to pry it out of her hands for a money-making scheme of his own.

The initial attraction of the book is the disarmingly engaging personality of Midge. Ray, though socially and financially adrift at the moment, is not without intelligence and is apparently well-read and self-taught on a number of subjects, e.g. the Civil War. Though the quest for his lost Torino and Norma may be naive and ill-considered, his single-minded pursuit of the two is admirable, especially as he persists in the face of Rheo's dreamy and meandering disconnect from reality, or at least reality as Ray perceives it. Ray is basically good-hearted, generous, and loyal to his commitments, everything that Syms is not in comparison.
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