Ryan's Reviews > The Dog of the South

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
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's review
May 19, 11

Read from May 08 to 19, 2011

I am completely shocked at not only how stupid this book is but how many people on Goodreads give it 4 or 5 stars. Even if some people rated it “middle of the road,” I could find that understandable – but how is there this much discrepancy? I was excited to read other Portis books after absolutely loving True Grit – it had a great plot, a great narrator, explored history, brought in religion and philosophies with life: I feel like there is NONE of that in Dog of the South. The narrator seems to be intended as a unique, quirky character like in True Grit; but he is not young, not charming, not funny, and is random just for the sake of being random. The plot: he’s off to Mexico to find his wife and his car, but nothing ever really happens. He drives, he stops, he meets a guy, they drive, they talk, they stop, Mexico, he’s sick, can’t cross the border, takes a boat, they get there, he’s weird, his mom’s there, he needs money, should he look for his wife, no, meets someone else, decides to drive to the guy’s farm who his wife ran off with, here he is, nope he’s going home… my God. I couldn’t read 3 pages without feeling exhausted, without feeling distracted by chores as stupid as doing the dishes and laundry – how bad does a book have to be to think of rather doing laundry than reading 3 pages? There is no empathy for any of these characters, no one is real, no one is entertaining or funny, the pacing with the plot is all out of whack, there are no touching scenes, no exciting scenes, nothing that symbolizes a larger picture of life, no philosophical narrations… and then it just FUCKING ENDS! He gets his wife, they go home, and within a single page months pass and she leaves to Memphis – THE END. Are you kidding me? There are people that rated this piece of shit, second-rate story 5 stars?!?!? Well, all the more power to you, but I don’t know if I have ever been more surprised and disappointed. Even my biggest disappointments (American Pastoral?) I feel like I can at least understand why some people hold the work in high esteem, for reasons I just don’t agree with; but I can’t even understand ANY REASONS why someone would rate this 5 stars. Unreal. I was going to read all four of Portis works (being that they are all sort, 250-page breezes) but now I really don’t feel like reading another. So it goes…
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05/08/2011 page 25
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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The Irrepressible Crank Wow, not only is your sense of humor and absurdity almost entirely non-existent, but you found it necessary to actually spoil the ending? Good work, citizen.

message 2: by Ryan (new) - rated it 1 star

Ryan Yes, thank you for your own wit. I have no sense of humor because this dumbass Portis wasted 240 pages writing about candy wrappers flying around in a car because said car has a hole in the floor and is being driven for no purpose... and I've already bored myself... I'm surprised you gave it 5 stars and am actually quite curious as to your reasons, but I realize that you are critical of my own review because of the 5-1 discrepancy. Let me just say, that of my 300 books on Goodreads this is one of only 2 or 3 total one-star reviews. I do have a darker, more satirical sense of humor, but I did not find one thing in this funny. I do, however, apologize for "ruining the ending." A) I didn't think that saying that nothing happens would really ruin anyone's experience, but B) I didn't really think anyone other than my 12 friends read these reviews(I'm not sure even THEY read these...). How many of these reviews of this book did you read in their entirety before reading the actual book? Why didn't you stop reading when you discovered I was criticizing plot?

Still... because you mention it:

Good Sense of Absurdity = Confederacy of Dunces, Any Vonnegut, Any Richard Russo, Any John Irving. Bad Sense of Absurdity = This.

The Irrepressible Crank I'm with you on the Confederacy and the Vonnegut, unfamiliar with Richard Russo's work, and less than enthused by most of Irving's stuff. Obviously different tastes make the world go round, blah blah blah, and you're entitled to yours. I didn't say you spoiled the ending for ME, did I? You should be aware, however, that what you post about a book is visible to any who are interested in that book, and spoilers can and do frequently suck.

Of course I am interested in anybody's opinion that so widely diverges from my own. I actually can't count the number of times that this book had me laughing ridiculously loudly and seemingly spontaneously. In truth, with no condescension at all (because none is necessary), I really feel quite sorry for you for your inability to find the worth in this work. Or, maybe I just feel really fortunate that I found some. Who knows?

message 4: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa I have to say that I am one of the few people who didn't like this book at all and I enjoy a wide range of styles. I also loved the movie "True Grit" so I was actually looking forward to this book. At this time I will probably not pick up another Portis book...guess I should have started with True Grit.

The Irrepressible Crank Okay Lisa, let me know if you ever read Humpty Dumpty in Oakland, and if so, what you think of it!

Josh Confederacy of Dunces gets a nod from you, yet Dog of the South does not... I think you were agitated by your "chores"(?), and remained apoplectic for some reason.

message 7: by Ryan (new) - rated it 1 star

Ryan Not agitated BY the chores, but would RATHER go off and do them, as they were/are more fun than the agitation this book put me through... Still one of only three books I have ever rated one star, out of grand total of 356 books read: it earns that distinction.

message 8: by Josh (last edited Dec 13, 2012 06:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Josh Ryan wrote: "Not agitated BY the chores, but would RATHER go off and do them, as they were/are more fun than the agitation this book put me through... Still one of only three books I have ever rated one star, o..."

Some books rub people the wrong way, while others (MANY others) LOVE it... this must find you in an exasperated state. Oh well, to each their own right?

I think you yourself, have earned a certain distinction, no? :)

Curious; a recent book that you do love... one that "stuck" so to speak. (Not looking for ammo here! Just curious.)

message 9: by Ryan (new) - rated it 1 star

Ryan Agreed. Humor -- especially in books -- hits people differently. I just finished Huck Finn and didn't really find it that "funny," for reasons too numerous to get into right now.

Recent books I love: Cloud Atlas, Mohawk by Richard Russo (and pretty much all Richard Russo) God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Vonnegut (and pretty much every Vonnegut), Handmaid's Tale and Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood, A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, and The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh have all moved me beyond belief this past year, to name a few.

Brent Dey For the record, the scene with the candy wrappers flying around in the back seat was one of the most hilarious in the book.

Sure, there is no plot, but with an inner monologue as rich and hilarious as Ray Midge's (and an exterior dialogue as funny as Dr. Remo Symes) we don't need a plot.

This is, bar none, the most hilarious book I've ever read. Sorry that you didn't get it.

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