Friday, January 30, 2009

More wrongitude

John Anthony West on Portis's Masters of Atlantis, in the NYT, 1985:

Mr. Portis followed that novel with ''The Dog of the South,'' again based upon a quest. A young man sets out from Arkansas for Mexico on the trail of his runaway wife, her lover and his stolen Ford Torino (it's the car he really wants back). Though well received, ''The Dog of the South'' lacks the drive and purity of ''True Grit.'' There are ominous, extended sojourns on the other side of that elusive line that separates being funny from trying to be funny.

Unfortunately, ''Masters of Atlantis'' rarely veers to the right side of that line. For some unknown reason, Mr. Portis has chosen to ignore the rich and varied material offered by history.

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