Monday, April 13, 2009

Roy Blount on Southern Humor and Charles Portis

Author and humorist Roy Blount writes about his favorite Southern novels in The Wall Street Journal - and includes Norwood by Charles Portis: "His many writerly enthusiasts periodically proclaim that Charles Portis, of Arkansas, is a great, grossly underappreciated comic novelist, and we are right. Some prefer The Dog of the South or Masters of Atlantis, and I would be the last to deny the merits of those . . . Oh Lord, I've been sitting here for half an hour trying to think of some way to evoke how purely, unforcedly funny Portis is without using pushy words like "hilarious" that he would die before using. Norwood is my first love among his novels, but I don't want to thrust it upon you; it can take care of itself. In fact, it probably isn't any better than those other two, or than True Grit, which was Portis's one big popular success. Norwood is the story of a Korean War vet traveling to New York to collect a debt. Along the way he meets the world's smallest perfect fat man and rescues a performing chicken named Joann.

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