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Gringos [Paperback]

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Item Number 443369  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   269
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5.3" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2000
Publisher   Overlook TP
ISBN  1585670936  
EAN  9781585670932  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Following the enormous success of the reissues of Charles Portis's first three novels -- The Dog of the South, Norwood, and Masters of Atlantis -- comes the reissue of a fourth truly brilliant, wonderfully bizarre novel by one of our great American novelists.

Jimmy Burns is an expatriate American living in Mexico who has an uncommonly astute eye for the absurd little details that comprise your average American. For a time, Jimmy spent his days unearthing pre-Colombian artifacts. Now he makes a living doing small trucking jobs and helping out with the occasional missing person situation -- whatever it takes to remain "the very picture of an American idler in Mexico, right down to the grass-green golfing trousers". But when Jimmy's laid-back lifestyle is seriously imposed upon by a ninety-pound stalker called Louise, a sudden wave of "hippies" (led by a murderous ex-con guru) in search of psychic happenings, and a group of archaeologists who are unearthing (illegally) Mayan tombs, his simple South-of-the-Border existence faces a clear and present danger.

Buy Gringos by Charles Portis from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781585670932 & 1585670936

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More About Charles Portis

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles Portis lives in Arkansas, where he was born and educated. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, was the London bureau chief of the "New York Herald-Tribune," and was a writer for "The New Yorker." True Grit is the basis for two movies, the 1969 classic starring John Wayne and the 2010 version starring Academy Award(r) winner Jeff Bridges and written and directed by the Coen brothers.

Charles Portis currently resides in the state of Arkansas.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Stumble On The Way To The City Of Dawn  Dec 29, 2004
I have just completed a frenzy of reading Charles Portis novels, and I had found them all to be very good or very funny or both until I stumbled and almost fell with Gringos. This is one of those books you read and think everyone else understands but you because there really is a lot going on: there are a lot of characters, a wiley protagonist, and Portis got good blurbs on the back jacket. But I didn't get it, not this time. The characters are all classic Portis-wacky and larger than life yet still very real somehow-and the quest is classic Portis too, a journey into the jungle in search of an ancient Mayan codex, UFOs, space aliens, hippie outlaws, and runaway children. I mean, how can you go wrong with a plot like that?

The dialog is not as snappy as other Portis novels, and the characters (so many of them this time that I couldn't keep up) did things for reasons that I wasn't able to follow. I suspect that with a second read, additional details will pop out to make Gringos more intelligible. So if I "get it" with a second reading, I'll dial back in and change my rating.
A tiresome tour of Mexico  Jul 11, 2002
When I recently stumbled across The Dog of the South by Portis, I felt an excitement much like I felt when I came across Richard Russo's Straight Man at a bargain rack. Here was a great comic novelist I had never heard of, and I couldn't wait to get my hand on more of his work. Well, Gringos covers some of the same ground as Dog of the South (DOTS), but in this reviewer's opinion it lacked much of the humor, direction and cohesion of the earlier work, and I labored to finish it.

The book takes place entirely in Mexico, amid small towns and ancient Mayan ruins being picked over by salvage dealers and hippies along for the ride. Unlike DOTS, which had a handful of very real and distinctive characters, Gringos is chock full of characters who do nothing to really distinguish themselves, and so about 100 pages in the reader starts to confuse Rudy, Roland, Doc Ritchie, Doc Flandin, Eli, Skinner, and a bunch of other male characters, together with a similar slew of unmemorable females such as Gail, Louise,Alma and Beth.

Narrator Jimmy seems to have as little purpose as humanly possible in life - he makes his living doing odd jobs, stumbling across valuable artifacts and selling them, and working on archeological expeditions but whenever he is given the opportunity in the novel to make money, (ie recover a reward), he refuses the money. He cares more about his truck's welfare than his own. He shows no interest in the opposite sex, and kind of falls into a marriage which is convenient because the woman cooks well and wakes up around the same time each day. He goes through the action in the novel with a very knowledgeable, but cool detachment, unlike the hilarious fastidiousness demonstrated by Portis' narrator in DOTS.

The main action in the novel concerned an expedition down a great river, to an ancient "holy" site where misinformed teenage beatniks seem to be converging, as our characters search for a missing planner named Rudy Kurle. For no great reason, Jimmy and a handful of followers risk life,limb and liberty to find casual aquiantance Rudy deep in the jungle, and when it appears they have no hope of finding him they decide they are really looking for a teenage runaway girl from Florida, who was briefly mentioned earlier in the novel. In fact, the bizarre reappearance of characters throughout the novel got a little ridiculous, since our characters kept running across others they had met earlier in the book, in remote areas, as if the entire country of Mexico was the size of Philadelphia. If an old buddy comes to him with a new wife, of course it is some girl Jimmy (and ther reader) had come across 200 pages earlier. The first 50 pages introduced us to more characters than we can remember, and they all seem to keep reappearing.

There is some wry humor in the book, and Jimmy is a pretty reliable, if not charismatic, narrator. I just miss the whole noble purpose behind DOTS, where our narrator pursued his wife, her lover and his Ford Torino to Central America, on the trail of their credit card receipts. Here the whole novel seemed like a largely pointless tour through Mexico's roads less travelled, and while Portis playfully lampoons hippies and gringos seeking UFO landing sites, he never really hits the funnybone in Gringos. He is a talented writer, but this is certainly not his best work.

Heart of Darkness - But more wry  Nov 27, 2000
Disclaimer: This is my first Portis read, so I have no basis for comparison.

That being said, this is one of the most enjoyable reads I can recall. All the other this site reviewers have it right: it is a wonderful menagerie of characters as sized up by the narrator.

What I can add to the list of reviews is the striking parallels to Conrad's Heart of Darkness. You have an odd-job protagonist who, along with is unique travelling companions, goes on a strange journey into the Mexican jungle to search for a missing friend. Along the way, he encounters excesses in human behavior, archeological adventurers, cultists and hippies. At the end of his journey, he finds a self-styled Captain Kurtz-like character: a self-imposed spiritual shaman-cum-criminal. Note that this is not the character that the protagonist is tracking down, but it does lead to an unexpected climax. Of course, the journey really isn't the point to the novel. The point is to capture all the colorful personalities along the way - Portis succeeds marvelously!

a great joy  Jun 8, 2000
Gringos was the first Portis novel I read; though nowhere does it approach, say, the perfection of the first few pages of Norwood, it remains, in some ways, my favorite of Portis's five novels. In Gringos, as in all his novels, Portis communicates to us the narrator's extraodinary compassion for a cast of misfits and losers. In the end, then, Gringos doesn't show showcase its author's justly-praised comedic gifts. It's also deeply moving.
Another rollicking adventure from an American master  Feb 9, 2000
The one constant in a Charles Portis novel is the tone: dry, deadpan, but never condescending. Often the tone serves as a buffer between the characters and the harsh, arbitrarily violent world around them. In Portis's first novel, _Norwood_, the strategy is largely successful, though in Portis's second and most famous novel, _True Grit_, violence assumes a fundamental place in the narrative.

Portis's latest novel, _Gringos_, about a group of American expatriates in Mexico, may be his most disturbing yet. Although it begins slowly, introducing us to a seemingly random menagerie of locals, dropouts, and hippies, the novel builds to a brutal, unforgettable climax in the remote Mexican jungle.

_Gringos_ is alternately funny and brutal, yet leaves an unexpectedly sweet aftertaste. It's a rollicking, adventurous masterpiece from one of America's finest living novelists.


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