THE DOG OF THE SOUTH by Charles Portis
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THE DOG OF THE SOUTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It won't take you long to figure out that Portis (True Grit) has nowhere particularly urgent to go with this jammy, careening book--nor will you especially mind: you'll be too busy being continually charmed. Ray Midge is a young ex-newspaperman in Little Rock, now back in college, who one day comes home to find that wife Norma has run away with her first husband, not-quite-firm-in-the-head Guy Dupree; Dupree has also taken all of Ray's credit cards and has left a ratty Buick Special in exchange for Ray's new Ford Torino. Tracing the runaways to San Miguel de Allende by the trail of charge slips sent home to Little Rock, Ray jumps into the Buick (which has ""a hole in the floor on the driver's side and when I drove over something white the flash between my feet made me jump""), and he's off in hot pursuit! In Mexico--and after that in Belize, British Honduras--Ray is a wonderful picaro, constantly adjusting faulty cars and worse plans, and meeting oddballs. . . like Reo Symes, a de-licensed physician whose mother runs a mission in Belize that seems to center around showing old George Sanders movies and Felix the Cat cartoons to the local children. Ray is also terrific at observing dozens of particularities along the way; for example: ""A hippie wearing striped bib overalls came in from the bar and sat beside [a girl]. She advised him that the seat was saved but the bird didn't get up. 'You can't save seats,' he said. What a statement! You can't save seats! I would never have thought of that in a thousand years!"" Everyone and everything in this ramble is as flaky as that--and more so. But Portis holds our attention in a headlock by being so relaxed and unfazed and good-natured--in a funky, off-center book that never guns its motor and yet is always arriving at some place that's green and fresh and funny.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1979
Publisher: Knopf