Interested in the Coen brothers' remake of one of my favorite films, True Grit, I picked up the original novel by Charles Portis. I'm glad I did, as now I'm a big Portis fan. His brilliant portrayal of landscapes and characters, especially Mattie, led me to another of his novel's, The Dog of The South. There he creates one of my all time favorite characters, Ray Midge. Midge reminds me of another of my favorite characters in literature, Ignatius Reilly, in that the reader is offered a window into the perverse world view and corrupted logic of antiheroes who perhaps mean well but lack enough self-reflection to avoid obtrusiveness. While Ignatius obsesses on his pyloric valve and Boethius, Ray Midge focuses instead on grammar and Dr Buddy Casey at Ole Miss lecture on the Siege of Vicksburg.
In The Dog of the South, Ray noticed his marriage started falling apart when he began the Algebra lessons for his wife every Thursday at 7PM. He figured if he could teach his wife ninth-grade algebra he could teach anything to anybody. She started turning in answers she copied from the back of the book without showing her work, and he would grade her tests with a 0. So she runs off in Ray's car with a dreamer named Dupree, Ray sets out to get her back, and along the way we meet several memorable characters. Funny stuff, and I look forward to reading more from Charles Portis.