Pure Nitro: 40 Years of Charles Portis’s Comic Masterpiece ‘The Dog of the South’

Bill Hader, the former Saturday Night Live cast member and the star and creator of HBO’s Barry, first encountered The Dog of the South following a recommendation from SNL writer Matt Murray, and quickly joined the ranks of Portis’s cult. For Hader, there was an instant recognition of his own off-the-beaten-path upbringing in these characters. “I thought they were funny in the way the people I grew up around in Oklahoma were funny,” he writes in an email. “Dry, irreverent, strange. And the idea of not being able to achieve ‘escape velocity’ was something I think a lot of Midwesterners with big aspirations can relate to.”

In a quixotic gesture, Hader obtained the film rights to The Dog of the South, fully aware of the virtually impossible challenge of bringing such an elusive and internal-monologue-driven novel to the screen in any recognizable form. “It’s incredibly hard to make it a movie. Part of what makes Portis fun is that you’re sitting at a bar with this unassuming guy and he’s telling you this hysterical story, but if you went home and told that story to your girlfriend or husband, it wouldn’t be as funny because Charles Portis isn’t telling it. Unless he’s sleeping with your girlfriend or husband, I guess.”

 

[Read More at The Ringer]

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