The Dog of the South
By Charles Portis
(Overlook Press, Paperback, 9780879519315, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 1999
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The Dog of the South is the story of Ray Midge tracking down his wife, Norma -- who has run off with her first husband -- by following credit card receipts (His credit card ). Midge starts out in Norma's lover's compact car, which has 74,000 miles on it and a quarter-turn slack in the steering wheel (They took his Ford Torino ). The trail leads from Arkansas, down to Mexico, and into Honduras, where Midge stops to help, and of course gets entangled with, Dr. Reo Symes in his broken down bus. "The Dog of the South". Symes is a pure Portis character -- a crazily optimistic, broken-down dreamer obsessed with secret knowledge in the form of John Selmer Dix, the elusive writer of inspirational books for salesmen. As Midge chases Norma and Symes tries to sort the true from the false Dix sightings, Portis spins an extraordinary novel that addresses with comic eloquence the deep longing of the American psyche for things just to make some sense.