Miles's Reviews > The Dog of the South

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
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's review
Feb 27, 12

Read in February, 2012

I really enjoyed this offbeat novel about a man, Ray Midge, chasing down his wife, her lover, and his missing car from Arkansas to Central America. Along the way we meet an amusing menagerie of characters, highlighted by Midge's part-time traveling companion, Dr. Reo Symes (a charlatan and medical con man).

This book won't be for everybody, but I'd say that you are likely to really enjoy it if you enjoyed John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces" (one of my favorite books). Both novels feature characters who are obviously intelligent, but anti-social. These characters are focused on their own obscure intellectual pursuits and tend to view themselves as being smarter than the mass of the morally weak and confused society surrounding them. Their views create all kinds of funny reflections and confrontations. A couple of samples from the first chapter of the book:

"I was at that time fascinated by the great captains of history and I sometimes became so excited when reading about such men as Lee or Hannibal (both defeated, it occurs to me) that I would have to get up and walk around the room to catch my breath," and

"I was reading a biography of Raphael Semmes and I put it down and rang up the twerp and asked him if he knew who Admiral Semmes was. He said, 'What!' and I said, 'He was captain of the Alabama, twerp!' and hung up."

For more on the comparison of the two books, check out Jack Joslin's column, "The Pompous Fool as Narrator" which led me to read the book -

For the record, Joslin prefers Portis' book to Toole's. I'd definitely recommend both if you like these kind of intelligent, offbeat characters and share this sense of humor.

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