Monday, January 17, 2011

Charles Portis

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.


Anonymous said...

lord mercy. one of the greatest books of all time.

guy dupree:

it was just like him to steal my 4-10 shotgun , a boy's first gun.

wouldn't give much of a kick to his sloping monkey shoulder.

every line in that book is a gem.

dont even get me started on dr. reo symes.

i have read this book a dozen times and it gets better every time , just like dunces

i was just telling my wife tonight that i hope true grit goes box office ape shit so that the bros will film dog of the south in my life time.

check portis' masters of atlantis.

the main place of action in the book makes me think of the claiborne overpass.

yall's pal , rickngentilly.

Michael Homan said...

I also like how Ray drinks at restaurants. He uses his left hand so as to avoid germs from the dominant 90% of right handed people. Or when he decides to skip hanging out with peace corps volunteers because they'll likely have a guitar. I am also amused at his attempts to teach valuable lessons to the two children, like his riddle about the raccoon. I just ordered Masters of Atlantis.

David said...

If you liked that, you'll love the sequels "Rooster Cogburn" and "True Grit: A Further Adventure."

Anonymous said...

You have to admire a man who thinks he can teach his wife math without her running off with some pot head. I know from painful personal experience.