Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charles Portis

The Dog of the South Deadpan comic picaresque that seems to take from Cervantes, Twain, Jane Bowles; Beckett in equal measures and foreshadows Joy Williams and Sam Lipsyte. The bizarre dialogue and characters seem to overrun the plot, the comedy turns ominous at certain points, and nothing ends in any predictable way. This is a rare novel without a bad sentence. (Good thing since it takes Portis about ten years to write a novel.)
Gringos Cut from similar cloth as the author’s Dog in the South, a story of ex-patriots (American) living on the Guatemala/Mexico border, and they are a truly eccentric bunch. Plot elements are wispy (another quest for a missing person) and languid, the sense of the comic turns alternately ominous, and the sentences are almost nearly all perfect. His finely pitched sentence after sentence keeps you reading despite the meandering narrative, on strength of the writing alone. A Manson family/ Jonestown type cult and hints of Guatemala’s civil war offer darker under currents.

True Grit A pitch perfect Western parody written in beautiful biblical language that manages to not be merely an entertainment (it is that though) by the haunting darkness and violence (especially the palpable influence of the Civil War) of its narrative, and the power of its characters realization.

No comments:

Post a Comment