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The Dog of the South: Portis, Charles The Dog of the South: Portis, Charles The Dog of the South: Portis, Charles The Dog of the South: Portis, Charles

The Dog of the South

Portis, Charles

ISBN 10: 0394506146 / ISBN 13: 9780394506142
Published by Knopf, 1979
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
From E. Manning Books (Urangan, QLD, Australia)

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About this Item

Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979. Stated "First Edition" with no other dates/printings indicated. Hardcover (15 x 22 cm), 246 pages. ISBN: 0394506146. The book is in Good condition. Quarter-bound green boards with tan cloth spine. Green lettering along spine. Bumped, rubbed, soiled. Crease along and at head & foot of spine. Slanted spine. Pages/edges tanning, foxing. The dust jacket (dj) is in Fair condition. Rubbed, chipped, creased and torn. Some holes along front flap fold and rear spine edge. Tanning, foxing, soiled. Not clipped, although there is no price listed on dj. The dj is covered in an archival book cover (removable). *For international customers* recommend email for a postage quote prior to purchasing. Weight (before packaging): 445g. Bookseller Inventory # 1904

Bibliographic Details

Title: The Dog of the South

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: 1979

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Fair

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

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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I am a full-time independent internet only bookseller with a growing general stock of collectible, out-of-print, and quality second-hand books. I have been an avid collector since 1997 and am an alumnus of the 2001 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. I proclaim no specialty, but tend to focus on Australiana, History/Military History and Vintage Paperbacks. Member Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA). Australian Business Number (ABN): 37582386811. Address: P.O. Box 7403, Urangan, QLD 4655, Australia. Email: manningbooks@gmail.com. "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” ~P.J. O'Rourke, Author/Political Satirist

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