Saturday, April 11, 2009

Five best: books of Southern humor

Roy Blount Jr.'s books include Alphabet Juice (2008) and Long Time Leaving: Dispatches From Up South (2007).

He named his five favorite books of Southern humor for the Wall Street Journal.

One title on the list:
by Charles Portis
Simon & Schuster, 1966

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.
Read about Number One on Blount's list.

--Marshal Zeringue