“The Dog of the South” by Charles Portis.Read about the other entries on the list.
Portis is best known for “True Grit,” but he also produced five other novels. “The Dog of the South” will propel you from melancholy to jubilation in exactly one page flat. Ray Midge’s wife, Norma, has run off with a sorry character called Guy Dupree, taking Ray’s beloved Ford Torino and leaving him Guy’s 1963 Buick Special “standing astride a red puddle of transmission fluid.” What follows is a road saga of exquisite deadpan humor and almost surreal bathos.--KATHERINE A. POWERS