Mark Desrosiers's Reviews > The Dog of the South

The Dog of the South by Charles Portis
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Jun 03, 12

bookshelves: fiction
Read in June, 2012

Ever have one of those slow-moving, deadpan, rational friends whose every life decision baffles you? Here's where you get the full scoop. Or rather, you get to sit shotgun with the ganglion of the worm turning in his brain.

Ray Midge, our narrator, is a model of goal-oriented rationalism. When his wife leaves him in his Gran Torino (with her paranoid ex-lover), all barriers collapse in his will to recover that car. His resources are limited, however, and indeed this novel is a masterpiece in how to plow through disasters and destitution with nothing but lint and gutter social capital. There's a reverse-Oz character to this journey, wherein a couple grease-stained decrepit males seek out the lost women they need in the chaos of Mexico and Belize.

I'm certain Portis tilted the typical Westward hipster journey well south of the border based on his own experience. But wow, he captures the hungry, flabby, con-artist nature of American character far better than either Tocqueville or Kerouac by pitching our anti-heroes well into the tossed salad of monsoon'n'toucan country.
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