Industrial Deals HPC Best Books of the Month Casual Friday Style nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Weekly One All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Only: $44.99 Grocery Handmade Personalized Jewelry Home and Garden Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon marchmadness marchmadness marchmadness  Echo Dot Introducing All-New Fire HD 10 with Alexa hands-free $149.99 Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now TG18SW_gno

Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$12.31+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on January 30, 2015
This book is a little gem. It's possible that you have to come from the South U.S. to totally get all the full chicken richness of Portis, but I'm betting not. Anyone with an ear for writerly fiction should get frequent little thrills from the unique narrating voice. It's not a big book, it's not a deep book, but... it's a great little book.

BTW, there was a wonderfully bad film adaptation of Norwood. Neither Glenn Campbell nor Joe Namath will be remembered for their acting skills, but young Kim Darby shines here, as she does in another film adaptation of a Portis novel, the 1969 True Grit.

The book is sweet and it's fun. It's a great time capsule at the sixties... from a rural, non-flower-child perspective... and it's certainly memorable. The narrating voice is truly masterful.

If you grew up with a connection to the rural south, circa 1950's or 1960's, or if you are a fiction writer or fiction devotee with an interest in voice, you really need to give this book a try. And, if you don't fall into either of those categories, you might still enjoy it.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on June 28, 2011
Norwood begins with a premise and a plotline. From there it meanders, much like its title character. Then it doesn't conclude, but slams shut. It's as though Portis got bored and simply stopped writing.

Please don't take that to mean I didn't enjoy this book. Charles Portis is a master of snappy dialog, and engages a quirky prose that will keep you reading and not want the book to end. In fact, that's why I only gave it four stars - I'd have liked to find out more about each character and their fate. What happened to Edmund? Do Norwood and Rita Lee end up married? How about Miss Phillips? Each one of the characters could easily have their own novel of exploits.

The most entertaining aspect of Norwood is that you expect something...and it doesn't happen. I enjoy books that frustrate me by not being predictable. And that is the point of this review, so the reader doesn't go into the book thinking it's something it's not. Norwood is not even close to True Grit, which I consider to be a masterpiece of literature. Rather than mission-based, Norwood is more of an amiable wander. An episode. Almost a cliffhanger. With no other installments that I'm aware of, darn it all.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on August 19, 2016
I am of two minds on this book. For one thing I found great humor in the characters portrayed and in their various misadventures. Funny stuff indeed. But then the story ended abruptly without a proper ending. It would have been a far better book with an additional two or three chapters detailing what eventually happened to the main characters
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 11, 2013
Although this was Portis' first novel I did not discover it until I had read some of his later work. His first attempt did not let me down. Portis is a genuis. His books should be mandatory reading in highschool. This may be my favorite of his Novels but that may be due to it being the most recent one I have read. I know own and have read all of his Novels and Escape Volocity which is a collection of his newspaper and magazine articles, and basically anything he wrote. This work is relatively short and I read it cover to cover in one sitting while on an airplane. I found myself laughing out loud in public as I consumed it.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on January 24, 2018
Great characters, great storylines, masterfully written. It does end rather suddenly, making it seem like an episode from a larger tale. More Norwood stories would be great!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on March 14, 2000
I first read Norwood when I was about ten years old, and I laughed out loud at just about every page, and couldn't resist reading passages aloud to anyone in earshot. I finished reading the new edition weeks shy of my fortieth birthday and it still has the stuff. Here's an example. Norwood is getting ready to leave town, and he has given his sister, Vernell, permission to drive his car, but not her husband, Bill Bird:
Vernell thought this was unfair. "Bill can drive a car all right."
"Naw he can't."
"He can too. He's just used to an automatic transmission."
"Uh huh."
"Bill can drive as good as I can."
"Well, you can't drive either. The only thing is, you're my sister. I might as well turn my car over to a rabbit."
"You'd have to get special extensions for the pedals," said Bill Bird.
I really am having a hard time trying to figure out something to say about NORWOOD that will be sufficiently complimenatary. I guess I will say that, if you have ever read any book of any sort and liked it, you will probably like NORWOOD as well or better. That ought to do it.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on October 8, 2008
FAIR WARNING: read "Norwood," and Norwood Pratt of Ralph, Texas,and his whole wonderful, bizarre entourage will live in your head forever. You'll be at a holiday dinner table sometime and your know-it-all brother-in-law will be expounding ponderously on something he read in "Reader's Digest," and you'll find yourself wondering if he does his research in the bathroom like Bill Bird, who married Norwood's sister and whose scholarship came from the Grit news sheet and "Sunset." Or for no discernible reason, you'll find yourself thinking of Joanne the Educated Chicken and you'll try to recall exactly how her owners rigged that mortarboard so it stayed put in the penny arcade from which Norwood rescued her. Trailways busses will never again seem dull conveyances. You'll give copies of the book to all your friends so you will never be without someone with whom to share the pure pleasure of this most American of picaresque novels.

The picaresque novel originated in Spain and Germany, where the protagonist is a rogue who sallies forth on a series of episodic adventures, surviving scrapes by his wits and deviousness and ending up something of a reformed citizen in the end. When English novelists got hold of the genre, they felt no particular need to redeem their protagonists---witness "Moll Flanders," "Tom Jones," and Tobias Smollett's sundry rogues. In American hands, the hero acquired actual virtue, though he is usually a person of low social status or deep innocence/ignorance who survives by his wits in a sophisticated and often corrupt society. Think of "Huck Finn" and Faulkner's "The Reivers," for instance. Think "innocent eye" and noble savage.

Actually Norwood and his sister Vernell don't live exactly in Ralph, but just the other side of Ralph. Their alcoholic father is a shade tree mechanic who "had always enjoyed living on the edge of places or between places, even when he had a choice. [so] they had moved a lot, back and forth along U.S. Highway 82 in the oil fields [Mr. Pratt] did not prefer one side over the other."

Norwood himself is a good boy and a good son, and when they moved to Ralph, he drops out of school and goes to work at a Nipper service station and uses the first money he makes to add a bathroom onto the house for his mother In it he installs "a bathtub new from Sears, and it WAS a delight. It was low and modern and sleek, with a built-in thing for the soap. There was a raised wave design on the bottom. Mrs. Pratt was well pleased and said so."

Yet Norwood also has ambitions, dreams. He wants to see the world. He joins the marines with those in mind, but when his father dies, he has to come home to take care of Vernell, who is overburdened neither with wit nor energy. Stuck again at the Nipper station, our hero dreams of The Louisiana Hayride, where folks like Hank Williams and Elvis Presley had gotten their start on the way to Nashville and the world beyond. He is saving toward that end. So when Grady Fring the Kredit King offers him a chance to deliver a car to New York City, Norwood, radiant at the prospects of "speeding across the country in a late model car, seeing all the sights" and at the same time retrieving the $70 owed him by another marine, asks no questions. Like so many Americans and characters in American novels, Norwood hits the highways with high hopes.

That those hopes don't work out precisely as he had imagined is no matter, and, in fact, suggests the power of our most prized virtues to take us places we could never have envisioned. Like Huck, Norwood is ever optimistic and honorable. His democratic eye sees the nobility in the world's second-smallest and most perfect small fat man. And the same decency that leads him to take in con artists also leads him to free Joanne the Educated Chicken, mortar board and all, from her steamy pen at a penny arcade. He is an American Everyman, and we are blessed to to travel with him.

I note that one reviewer first read this book at age ten. How I envy him! To have had all those years enriched with the best laughter I can imagine.

Jacques Barzun once said that he would give every American high school graduate a copy of Thoreau's "Walden." I would give them "Norwood" and "Dog of the South."

Why isn't this book on the reading lists for high school English classes?
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on July 24, 2016
Funny, entertaining, well consieved allagory of hopelessness and the resignation of the lower class white America. Tragic and intreginging journey of a young man lost to losing. He doesn't even know it. A Portis triumph.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on November 21, 2004
Norwood Pratt has neither guile nor an education, but he possesses a comic wisdom that guides him from one nutty encounter to another. He is the man he is, regardless, slow to fight but ready to fight, honest, to a point, and rationalizing beyond that. He never internalizes, seldom jumps to conclusions, and just proceeds along the rightness of his course without question. He is a Faulknerian character distilled down to the basics, so unsophisticated he is hilariously honest.

Norwood is a fast-paced comedy of the simpleton winning out in the end because his sights are so low he can't lose, and Charles Portis' social commentary should not be missed, but if you do, the dialogue alone is worth the read. And if the characters in Norwood seem too silly to be real? Well, I recognized them more than I care to admit.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
Norwood leaves his small town in Texas and heads to New York, primarily to collect a $70 IOU. Then he goes back to Texas. It doesn't sound like much, but in the hands of Charles Portis, every character is interesting and funny. Portis even made the residents of New York City likable and sympathetic. Maybe that's why they call it fiction. Even if Norwood went across the street to get a beer rather than to New York, Portis would have given him something interesting to do and say.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Customers also viewed these items


Need customer service? Click here