As a novelist of unique wit and vision, Charles Portis has invited comparisons to Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo, and his writing has garnered accolades from the likes of Roy Blount, Jr., Nora Ephron, and Sam Shepard. This classic novel, the first in a series of Portis re-issues, is a perfect invitation into this master's brilliantly singular view of America.
©1979 Charles Portis; (P)2001 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Hilarious and heart breakingly odd....You find yourself laughing so hard in sections that tears run down your face." (The Baltimore Sun)
"Herein one find the author's storied gift for humorous embellishment, characterization, and regional dialogue, all of which are served up in crisply brisk tones by Edward Lewis." (AudioFile)
Something about myself...happy now?
This is one of my favorite books. It's almost impossible to find in bookstores and I always wind up giving the copies I find to people, which means that I never get them back. So I was surprised to find this in the Audible library.
The ease with which Portis lays down this odd tales of odd people doing odd things makes the whole thing seem normal. Ray Midge is a triumph of logic over reason. It's hard to give examples of how screamingly funny the writing it since the humor is tied so closely to the plot and the characters. A line like "Some people say he flicked cigarette butts on to babies in their strollers, but he wasn't that kind of man, Speed", require so much background you wind up telling the whole story.
Edward Lewis does a great job of voicing Midge and the other characters. At first, the slightly over-long pauses get on your nerves, but once the book gets going it's exactly the right choice for the character. Lewis doesn't hit a sour note throughout the book.
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5 stars for the novel, which is wonderfully funny, rich, and strange. I like the dry, slow-paced narration as well.
Unfortunately this audiobook is missing a substantial part of Chapter 4, despite being advertised as "unabridged." I was looking at my paperback copy of the book when I realized that the audio narration ends Chapter 4 far too early, concluding with Dr. Symes saying "You might as well play Parcheesi for 2 years" and then going right to Chapter 5. About 13 1/2 pages in the novel are omitted. All the great stuff about John Selby Dix being better than Shakespeare, and all non-Dix writing mere "foul grunting," is gone.
I didn't check the rest for any missing passages but at least this section is incomplete, which is unfortunate.
This is one of my husband's and my favorite audio books. The reader does such a fine job that he makes Ray Midge completely believable. It also helps if you have friends or relatives like him, which most of us in the South probably do. Charles Portis is wonderful at assembling unlikely casts of characters, throwing them all together and making them work. Only one other book that he has written is more favored by me, and that is Gringos, which is not offered on audio, but it, too, is a very funny book.
The reader of this book is very good. However, the book itself just goes nowhere. Halfway through I kept asking myself--where is this book going? Unfortunately there was no pay off. It's just a random string of events concerning a bunch of people that are very un-likeable. There is no payoff and no real redemption for any of the characters. The only thing that makes up for it is the sometimes very funny quips and odd "insights" that the fictional author comes up with. The reader is also very good which made getting through the book bearable. However, I was very disappointed after hearing/reading True Grit. I can't believe the same author wrote both books...
While much of the writing is smart, I kept waiting for something significant to happen. The main character became more and more unlikable as the book went on.
Loved the dry, sneaky humor of this book - and it was perfectly captured by the flat tones of the reader. The completely clueless hero details amazing adventures as if he's doing what anyone else would do: drive off in a broken-down car with only a stack of savings bonds and a box of silverware on the trail of his wife and her former husband. Of course he links up with a doctor who's lost his license; of course he ends up in Belize; of course he finds his wife during the immediate aftermath of a hurricane. And of course it's all totally understandable given the circumstances - and especially as read by Edward Lewis. Highly recommended!
A total delight. Edward Lewis read the book with excellent detail. One of my favorite books to listen to so far!
I have been a consistent, possibly obsessed audiobook listener since 2003. My listening ranges from suspenseful mysteries to science and technology, but I return again and again to the unexpected depth and breadth of books which fall into the "Mysteries and Thrillers" category.
The story is ambling, quirky and completely satisfying. The reader is superb.
Dry, very funny, and odd in the best possible way, this isn't the book for you if you want adventure, intrigue, drama, or really even that much of a plot.
Portis doesn't seem interested in those things, focussing his writing instead on the social quirks, delusions of grandeur, and general weirdness of the hopelessly pathetic cast of losers he assembles. He describes these things in effortless and idiosyncratic detail, and crafts dialogue between the characters throughout that will -- if you're in on the joke -- make you laugh hard.
Reading Portis' novels, it's easy to see why the Coen brothers produced a film of his "True Grit." If you're an admirer of their films, you will feel like you're cracking their code when you read Portis. His penchant for eccentric characters and oddball humor was clearly an influence on them.
One final note: Edward Lewis' narration was among the best I've ever heard. By this I mean that it perfectly captures the tone of the book and personality of each character, most notably Ray Midge. It matched -- and added to -- the material in the way you want great narration to do. I wish he would narrate more books in this vein, but for the most part the rest of his catalog seems more conventional.
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