Sunday, February 04, 2007

Vacation Book Report #5

The Dog of the South (1979) by Charles Portis

*** out of five

I picked up this book because of Roy Blount, Jr.'s blurb on the back cover: "No one should die without having read The Dog of the South." Now I can die a happy woman.

It's a funny meandering story about Ray Midge who journeys to find his wife, Norma, who has run off with her first husband in Ray's beloved Ford Torino. The trail leads him to Mexico and Honduras and he meets many lost souls and crackpots along the way. As I read the book I thought of the movie "The Player" and decided that The Dog of the South is Fannie Flagg meets Hunter S. Thompson. It's definitely a period piece, of a time when border crossings were routine and casual drug use more mainstream.

I read some of the book in the middle of the night because on Friday night, I was awakened to hear my brother's name being shouted over and over. I finally realized that I was not dreaming and hurried to dress (although I was still asleep enough that I dressed without ever turning on a light, stumbling around trying to locate my shoes with my feet.) Someone had rattled the locked door of guests at the hotel, and they were trying to rouse my brother the manager to tell him. I hurried to his quarters and woke him. He sleeps with a sleep machine due to sleep apnea and had slept through all the commotion. After we checked the premises and called the police I went back to bed at 2:00 a.m. but of course was too wired up to sleep. So I joined Ray Midge on his mad trip and read for an hour before I could relax and sleep. (We have decided, on reflection, that the marauder was actually another set of guests, a young couple who appear to have gotten quite drunk and apparently couldn't find their room in their condition. The following morning they required bloody mary's for breakfast and reeked of stale alcohol.) It fit in perfectly with this crazy book.

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