You know Charles Portis if you know who he is because he wrote True Grit. But I just read The Dog of The South by Charles Portis because other writers gush on about him. Nora Ephron, for example, said that Portis ” hinks things no one else thinks.’”

The Dog of The South is about a road trip made by the main character to retrieve his car and incidentally his wife who has run off in his car. I read this book to find out what makes a writer a writer’s writer. Here’s what I decided.

Portis is a writer’s writer because every word and every detail matters. If you browse by something, you end up going back to find out where that character or phrase comes up the first time because it comes up again. This novel is not so much written as chiseled.

Portis is a writer’s writer because his writing isn’t pretty. There are no lyrical descriptions.

Finally, Portis is a writer’s writer because his sentences don’t finish any place near to where they start. Here’s an example-“vultures walked boldly along the deck like domestic turkeys.” Or this “n the darkened doorways there were people smoking cigarettes and thinking their Mexican thoughts.” Maybe this is what Ephron meant.

I don’t think Portis gave a damn when his books went out-of-print, He’s a writer’s writer because he’s not a reader’s writer.

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