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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Time!
It's great to see Portis' finest novel getting a little attention at last. Pity it took everyone 20 years to notice that Dog of the South is a masterpiece. Here are the Seventies as they were lived outside Hollywood:an American "Era of Stagnation," a stagnant pond in which tiny creatures like Ray Midge, protagonist of this novel, move in little circles. Ray...
Published on June 18, 2000 by John Dolan

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recovering your Ford Torino and wife, in that order
The hero of THE DOG OF THE SOUTH is Ray Midge, an unemployed, twenty-six year old underachiever from Little Rock, AR. 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...
Published on January 10, 2008 by Joseph Haschka


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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's About Time!, June 18, 2000
By 
John Dolan (the eXile, Moscow) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It's great to see Portis' finest novel getting a little attention at last. Pity it took everyone 20 years to notice that Dog of the South is a masterpiece. Here are the Seventies as they were lived outside Hollywood:an American "Era of Stagnation," a stagnant pond in which tiny creatures like Ray Midge, protagonist of this novel, move in little circles. Ray is a bore, a weapons-nerd and military-history pedant, a tiresome "selfish little fox" in the words of his dancing ex-mother-in-law and "an effete yeoman" in his own estimation. But he is also the voice to which Portis assigns some of the funniest and most beautiful sentences ever written. Ray's failed attempt to live out an heroic tale of vengeance is the story, and it's a great story; but it's Portis' extraordinary prose that will stay with you long after you finish this novel. My brothers and I, who had read this novel dozens of times, used to conduct whole conversations consisting of memorized sentences from the novel. It's that good.
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A comic gem!, October 8, 2001
By 
E. Hawkins (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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'The Dog of the South' is a perfect novel. This sounds like hyperbole. It is short; there is very little in the way of plot; the characters do not develop in any way: yet the book is as engaging and entertaining as anything I have ever read. Before embarking on my second reading (just a fortnight after I finished my first) I planned to write down my favourite lines from the book. I gave up because I was transcribing almost the entire novel. No synopsis can do it justice. Ray Blount, Jr. has said of this book that 'no-one should die without reading it.' I'm with him all the way.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I forgot how much I liked this guy. . . . ., August 6, 1999
By A Customer
I read NORWOOD when I was about eleven years old, and loved it, reading it once or twice a year until well into my teens, when the book either fell apart or got lost somewhere.
Imagine my joy at being enfolded in Charles Portis' marvelous universe once again, where a man puts plastic bags on his junkyard dog's feet because the dog doesn't like getting his feet wet;old men in big shoes and smocks hollar outside motel rooms, and, when confronted say, "I'm just fooling around," and missionaries politely disagree over who is more destructive: human beings or goats.
This book is a million laughs. Readers of NORWOOD might find some similarities between the narrator/protagonist and Norwood's brother-in-law Bill Bird.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rollicking Good Ride, June 26, 2002
By 
J. Mullin (Plantation, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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Trying to describe Charles Portis' classic novel The Dog of the South is not easy, since this book doesn't fit nicely into any category I've encountered before. The book is sort of a cross between Confederacy of Dunces, and maybe a more accessible (and enjoyable) Pynchon. The narrator, Ray Midge, is a 28 year old fussbudget from Arkansas who has trouble settling down to a real job, and whose wife Norma has recently left him for her first husband, Guy Dupree, a hapless radical arrested for threatening the President. Midge wouldn't be THAT mad except the lovers on the lam took Ray's Ford Torino, and left him Guy's [run down] Buick filled with Heath wrappers, and reeking of dog.
This relatively sparse outline of a plot sets a wonderful story in motion, as Midge follows the trail of his wife's credit card receipts to follow them to Central America, ostensibly to get his car back. Along the way Midge meets a zany ex-doctor, named Symes, a loony Louisiana character who seems to me right off the pages of John Kennedy Toole's masterpiece Confederacy of Dunces.
It is difficult to explain the plot and the characters, it is simply a parade of oddball characters and circumstances. Ray looks out the window at some pelicans, and one gets hit by lightning. He makes polite conversation to a kid, asking him "How many states have you seen?" and the kid inexplicably snarls back "More than you!" Every meeting and social interaction takes a somewhat unexpected, but strangely believable turn so there was something to enjoy and chuckle about on every page.
The novel is also full of wry observations and bits of wisdom, like when the narrator warns readers to turn glasses or mugs with handles to the left, as if you were left-handed, since the side of the cup you are sipping has come into contact with fewer human mouths. Portis' outlook is offbeat to be sure, but there's a zany truth to much of it.
This was my first encounter with Portis' work, much of which is in the process of being re-released (the book was written in the mid 70's), and if Dog of the South is any example Portis is a writer who begs to be rediscovered by modern readers looking for a comedic road trip story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recovering your Ford Torino and wife, in that order, January 10, 2008
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This review is from: The Dog of the South (Paperback)
The hero of THE DOG OF THE SOUTH is Ray Midge, an unemployed, twenty-six year old underachiever from Little Rock, AR. 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. In Ray's place, the average reader would perhaps be sorely tempted to jettison Syms and get on with it.

For those that wonder about such things, the timeframe of the plot isn't completely clear. It's obviously between 1963 - the model year of the Buick - and 1973, when British Honduras was renamed "Belize". And, it's at a time when gas was still 22.9 cents a gallon. On this last far-distant point, memory fails.

THE DOG OF THE SOUTH at first reminded me superficially of 1967's highly amusing comedic film, Flim Flam Man, starring Michael Sarrazin and George C. Scott, wherein a relatively normal, young man falls under the influence of an older, world-wise con artist. However, that preconception swiftly dissipated as Ray arrives in Honduras and must there cope with haphazard and frustrating circumstances that, while not actually revealing Midge to be a certifiable nut case, certainly cause him to lose his grip just a little.

The point of the novel is, I guess, the order that (every)one seeks in a decidedly messy world. Find a secure handhold and hang on for the ride, if you can.

THE DOG OF THE SOUTH was a low key book that was interesting enough for me to finish, but not one that I'd necessarily recommend to anyone, friend or enemy. This is, perhaps, the closest I can come to a definition of "3-star".
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest books I have ever read., July 24, 1999
By A Customer
Portis is perhaps the most underrated comic novelists of our time. When you finish reading Dog of the South, get Norwood and Gringos, two other hilarious and gracefully written books. Please tell Mr Portis to write another novel--he hasn't for some time, and I need a Portis refill round about now.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never thought I was capable of awarding 5 stars!, July 8, 1999
By A Customer
This book is absolutely hilarious. Why haven't I heard of this author? My goodness, it took an exerpt in the Atlantic Monthly to hook me but I was literally in tears of laughter after reading a few pages. Imagine Garrison Keillor on LSD and you have Portis.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem of a novel; beautifully crafted, wildly funny!, June 17, 1999
In the spring of 1979, while on a delayed-honeymoon trip, my husband and I bought "The Dog of the South" at a New York bookstore. We were each hooked by the opening paragraphs, and for the next several days we conducted a literal tug of war over the book as we (grudgingly) took turns reading it to completion. There are not enough accolades in my vocabulary to express my love and enthusiasm for this book, which I have re-read many times in the ensuing years. Every character became utterly real to me... so much so that if I should ever visit Belize I would be tempted to look for the Unity Tabernacle and check to see how Meemaw and Melba are faring and whether they have news of Dr. Symes. We kept loaning the book to other people and periodically had to replace our copy. Then, some years ago I was horrified to discover it was no longer in print! A frantic search yielded a used copy at a Little Rock bookshop, and we've guarded it like the treaure it is. (We've since acquired other copies as we've run across them and passed some along to friends.) It is so wonderful that this marvelous little novel is being republished! I wish every reader who might appreciate it for the absolute delight it is would be fortunate enough to discover and savor it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No smoking at the table and no record-playing after 9 PM, May 22, 2008
By 
This review is from: The Dog of the South (Paperback)
Humour's a funny old thing, innit? Particularly various but generally undeniable. And that's just in real life--introduce a typewriter and watch those options narrow. It seems I think I'm saying that when you advance to humour rendered on the page you've got yourself a rarer tree indeed to bark up. Mysteriously connected I've always thought to how you go about seeing life pass you by. But that may in fact be just me reading into things so let's move on. First off, Portis's third novel is a dream of strong good laughter narrated by the incomparable Raymond Midge. Yup, he's the rodent-faced dude what spins this yarn. You don't even have to get past page one to fall under the spell of this fastidiously deadpan jasper. To paraphrase a phrase, the Midge abides. Got his features all bunched up in the centre of his face is the reason I said that about the rat--says so his own self so he does when the petulant Canadian bunny builder aims a parting barb at him in that hotel over the border there in Mexico. Lots of folks don't seem to see the magic in Midge's stupendously canny delivery but for those of us who do you cannot and will not get a better or funnier or more human narrator. The effete yeoman worrying about hazardous melon juice on the highway! Reo keeps calling him Speed which still cracks me up. He alone sees a flying pelican get struck by lightning. Then there's the good doctor himself--the first time Ray sees Reo the old geezer's got up like a boxing referee. I remember having to actually stand up when I first read this in order to laugh correctly--Reo Symes in his white shirt and white trousers and black bow tie. Reo's a gem of a character alright--here he's talking to his mother about some of his cronies:

"The kind of people I know now don't have barbecues, Mama. They stand up alone at nights in small rooms and eat cold weenies. My so-called friends are bums. Many of them are nothing but rats. They spread T.B. and use dirty language. Some of them can even move their ears."

There's not one page here that doesn't pay off in stitches. I was just at the bit where Dupree's chow dog is wearing four little plastic bags on his paws down there in British Honduras and really Charles Portis, this godsend from Little Rock, just didn't ever put one foot wrong in the five sublime novels he has written. From Norwood to Gringos, there isn't a word out of line. Sentence after precision sentence, the honed and inimitable style of the guy ought to have you busting wheelies all over the shop--although again, humour pitched at this level won't floor everyone. Or should that be florr everyone? I've read The Dog of the South--as ecstatic a piece of tragicomic palaver as someone like me could wish for--about a million times now and the barkingly funny road trip keeps unraveling in ever better and deeper byways. Eleven thumbs up in any case, just like I gave Hairway to Steven. Yup, Mister Portis is that bleeding good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Odyssey of Dunces, November 9, 2004
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The humor in this novel is so dry you do not realize how funny a sentence is until you have already moved on to the next sentence, then the humor comes to you and you absolutely must go back and re-read the previous passage.

The Dog of the South is full of sly, self-deprecating Southern humor, a humor that could offend were it not wielded in a masterful way. What is this novel about? Gosh, who knows, but I swear I see The Odyssey, The Heart of Darkness, and A Confederacy of Dunces all wound together into a tale of silly nonsequiturs that make potent social commentaries akin to Vonnegut.

An enjoyable read.
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The Dog of the South (1st Edition)
The Dog of the South (1st Edition) by Charles Portis (Hardcover - June 12, 1979)
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