Stephen's Reviews > The Dog of the South

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
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's review
Jul 30, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: american-lit, contemporary-lit
Read from July 24 to 30, 2010

Let's call it 3.5 stars to be honest with ourselves, but I'll gladly round the review up to 4 stars on the fact of enjoyability of the novel. I've been telling colleagues (the novel was given to me by one as a recommendation) that Dog of the South is a version of On the Road I didn't hate.

It follows Ray Midge, who has been abandoned by his wife, who stole his car and credit cards and flew south with her ex-husband. He gives chase, deluding himself that he just wants his car back (oh that fated Torino!), and tracks them down to British Honduras.

Of course, along the way, he meets a cast of remarkably bizarre characters. Such as the ever-scheming Dr. Symms and his mother, who converse in a delightfully roundabout way, never actually determining anything.

The story is the kind of anti-coming of age tale. Typical journey motifs send our protagonist through chaotic and difficult circumstances in order to transform them into something else. And while that appears possible at times throughout this novel, everything ends up more or less back at square one in the end. There's a prevailing message throughout that 1) we're all a little bit crazy/eccentric and 2) there's no use trying to be anything other than ourselves; we are who we are and live our lives accordingly.

Dog of the South is a quick read and an entertaining one. It's worth picking up.
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