Blowhard, Esq. writes:
I thought this was a wonderful book. Published in 1966, it’s a road novel that takes place in late 50s America as the titular hero ventures from Texarkana to New York City and back. Here I am, a dude that loves whining about lit fic yet I think this novel qualifies. Well, to an extent. There’s a story – Norwood is trying to recover $70 owed to him by an military buddy – but it’s pushed into the background. Likewise, there’s a character arc, but it too is secondary. Instead, Portis’s book is about local color, dialogue, and comic absurdity delivered with a laconic Southern charm. His attitude towards his characters is mocking yet deeply affectionate. I laughed on almost every page. Glynn Marshes is a fan too, so consider this superb entertainment UR Approved™©®.
I’m not going to quote any funny bits, because I don’t like spoiling jokes, but here’s a short passage to give you a feel for the prose:
Norwood made himself two biscuit and Br’er Rabbit syrup sandwiches and went out to the front porch to eat them and wait on the bath water to get hot. Down the highway beyond the Nipper station the lights of the skating rink made a dull yellow glow. Insect bulbs of low wattage. The music came and went in heavy waves. It was a record of a boogie-woogie organist playing ‘Under the Double Eagle.’ Norwood threw one of the biscuit sandwiches out to a red dog that was traveling through town, going east, possibly to Texarkana, and watched him eat it in one gulp. Then he went out and started the Fleetline and listened for a minute to the clatter of the burnt rod and the loose tappets — it sounded like a two-cylinder John Deere tractor — and drove down to the skating rink. Sometimes, after the first session, you could pick up a country girl there looking for a ride home.
- Side note for “Breaking Bad” fans: One of the characters is a smooth, suave, shady businessman with a number of money-making ventures including an interstate trade in stolen cars. The dude’s name is Grady Fring.
- I quoted the opening and closing paragraphs of Portis’s masterpiece True Grit here.