The Dog of the South (1st Edition)

Charles Portis

Published by Random House Inc (T), 1979
ISBN 10: 0394506146 / ISBN 13: 9780394506142
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Synopsis: When his wife, Norma, runs off with her lover, taking with her Ray's credit cards and his Ford Torino, Ray sets off in pursuit, journeying from Arkansas through Texas and Mexico to a remote plantation in Honduras

Review: Charles Portis may be the sneakiest comedian in American letters, not to mention one of the funniest. And there's no better specimen of his double-edged art than The Dog of the South, which Overlook Press has recently rescued from a long, cruel, out-of-print limbo. As usual, the narrator is a down-at-the-heels Southerner with an eye for the homely detail and a mission to accomplish. What Ray Midge means to do is track down his significant other: "My wife Norma had run off with Guy Dupree and I was waiting around for the credit card billings to come in so I could see where they had gone." In another author's hands, this opening sentence might lead straight to a bloody, noir-ish denouement. Here it's merely the excuse for a meandering, semi-pointless quest, during which the fussbudget protagonist is assailed by tropical storms, grifters, hippies, car trouble, and even an assortment of airborne trash: "I had to keep the Buick speed below what I took to be about sixty because at that point the wind came up through the floor hole in such a way that the Heath wrappers were suspended behind my head in a noisy brown vortex."

Hapless, rhetorically challenged Ray Midge would more than fulfill any novel's quota for comic creation. But Portis pairs him with another indelible nutter, Dr. Reo Symes. A font of dubious financial schemes, Symes attaches himself to Ray like a peevish, passive-aggressive Pancho Sanza, and his non-sequitur-studded riffs must be heard to be believed:

I always tried to help Leon and you see the thanks I got. I hired him to drive for me right after his rat died. He was with the Murrell Brothers Shows at that time, exhibiting a fifty-pound rat from the sewers of Paris, France. Of course it didn't really weigh fifty pounds and it wasn't your true rat and it wasn't from Paris, France, either. It was some kind of animal from South America. Anyway, the thing died and I hired Leon to drive for me. I was selling birthstone rings and vibrating jowl straps from door to door and he would let me out at one end of the block and wait on me at the other end.
The vibrating jowl straps are the kicker here, of course. But it's the overall futility of the enterprise that gives Symes his comic potency, and makes him Ray's natural companion in arms. Neither of these guys is going to accomplish anything: they're Beckett clowns in Sansabelt trousers, too enervated by the heat even to agonize. Still, you won't find a more delicious (or less reliable) narrator in contemporary fiction, and Charles Portis's genius for inventing all-American eccentrics is anything but futile. --James Marcus

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Dog of the South (1st Edition)
Publisher: Random House Inc (T)
Publication Date: 1979
Book Condition: Fair
Edition: 1st.

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Charles Portis
Published by Random House Inc (T) (1979)
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Charles Portis
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Book Description Random House Inc (T), 1979. Condition: Good. 1st. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Seller Inventory # GRP13038535

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Book Description Knopf, 1979. Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory # 0394506146-2-4

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Book Description Knopf, 1979. Hardcover. Condition: Used: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG0394506146

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Book Description 1979. Hardcover. Condition: VG+. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 1st Edition. 1979, Knopf, stated First, HB 246pp, by the author of True Grit, VG+/VG (dj price intact, dj lightly worn at edges, covers and their titles bright, interior clean and unmarked, binding tight). Seller Inventory # 8377

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Book Description Condition: VeryGood. This book is hardcover. The dust jacket has minor damage or small tear. Fast Shipping - Safe and Secure - Ships from Utah! Book within is in Very Good+ condition. Tight binding clean pages. Seller Inventory # 2RUCN0000DWM

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Book Description Knopf, 1979. Hardcover. Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 1st Edition. Clean, unmarked, tight copy. Minor shelf wear. See pics for details. Careful wrapping and fast shipping within 24 hours from TX (w/ tracking #)!. Seller Inventory # ABE-1515821928162

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Book Description Knopf, U.S.A., 1979. Hard Cover. Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. First Edition/First Printing. First Edition (stated.) First Printing. Author's 3rd novel. Clean, tight copy w/sharp corners, no writing, not price clipped. Small amount of foxing to top of page block & spine bottom pushed/soft. DJ nice, edgeware to spine top & bottom - a 1/16 inch closed tear & a few nicks, else Fine. Mylar protected DJ. Bookseller Invt # C00070602D. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Seller Inventory # 000602

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