My favorite Portis I think Such perfect command of tone stone face deadpan treatment of screwball nutty material ike the prose euivalent of a Buster Keaton film The nominal subject is cults and secret societies but that s just Portis entry point into the same kind of earnest eccentrics that all his novels are about These kooks behavior is presented totally matter of factly This book is so hilarious Was there a 20th century fiction writer funnier than Portis I m failing at writing an interesting review so I Good Thinking ll just reproduce one of the many LOL worthy passages The context of this is that a hack writer has been hired to write the biography of protag Lammar Jimmersoneader of the Gnomon Society and Jimmerson isn t that a hilarious name is none too happy with the Death in Mumbai liberties taken by the biographer Corpulent genius was fair enough Viselike grip was good It was pleasing to see his oyster eyes described as twoive coals The fellow had a touch all right but how had he come up with such things as the absolute powers of a Sultan and the sacred macaws of Tamputocco and Peruvian metals unknown to science and the Master awash in his oversize bathtub and Baccarat : La lgende du cristal likes to work with young people and a spray of spittle Why was he Lamar Jimmerson who never raised his voice shown to be expressing opinions he had never held in such an exclamatory way that droplets of saliva flew from hisipsPeruvian metals unknown to scienceFound a good review here from which I will also uote In his earlier books specifically the first two Portis s main characters are guided by what strikes me as a distinctly American brand of optimism and up by your bootstraps tenacity Masters of Atlantis then is about what happens when those same ualities are misguided or manipulated by delusional hucksters or both At any rate our story is under way and it is told in a cool unwavering deadpan that establishes vast chasms of irony as events become preposterous beginning with the arrival of Austin Popper Mr Jimmerson s on again off again spokesman and without uestion one of American O Colégio de Todos os Segredos literature s most hilarious creationsTruth Read this thing I rank Masters of Atlantis fourth best in myisting of Charles Portis novels It s also his fourth chronologically Number one of course is True Grit then Norwood then Gringos and March Violets (Bernie Gunther, last The Dog of the South If you are a fan of the uirky of common man American culture in uaintly bizarre representation you can t go wrong with any of them In Masters of Atlantis Portis takes on an odd American institution that worms its way into all his work the society with secret knowledge Aliens are responsible for the advances of human history or alchemists orost tribes Anyway certain unacknowledged prophets are aware of much that the supposed experts The truth And they will Zoete tranen let you in on what s really happening usually for a nominal fee and a special greeting for members onlyThis kind of thing is still around perhaps attaining its most virulent form in the brotherhood of Beck but genteel fraternal organizations do survive The heyday of Shriners and Moose Freemasons and Rosicrucians though seems to have passed That s a movement in our history that Charles Portis undoubtedly regrets and he joyfully pays tribute to gnostic knowing with this comic homage It s Portis s most ambitious work in the number of major characters and historical context The Gnomon society achieves intermittent fame and fortune not only through the initial efforts of Lamar Jimmerson who returns to the States after World War I with the Codex Papas and establishes a temple in Burnette Indiana There s also Sidney Hen fellow Master andeader of Gnomonism in England then Canada then Mexico before finally being reunited with Jimmerson in the La Coma trailer park just outside of Brownsville TexasAnd there are Water Music lower ranking figures who play significant roles in this story One of the chief disciples of the Gnomon way as it approaches the end of the twentieth century is Maurice Babcock who Portis describes in great and marvelous detail not fat but with the softook of a middle aged bachelor who has a good job money in the bank who takes pills and time released capsules throughout the day avoids all foods prepared in aluminum cookware and eats a bowl of bran at bedtime to scour the pipes It s Babcock who gets to go on the inevitable Portis road trip which has to be sueezed into the overstuffed story Too bad with this kind of observation #The farmers of America Babcock noticed had stopped wearing straw hats overalls and high top shoes and had #farmers of America Babcock noticed had stopped wearing straw hats overalls and high top shoes and had over to the trucker s uniform of baseball caps tight jeans and cowboy boots this outfit having the raffish air of the pool hall Women cannot be privy to the myteries of the Cone of Fate but Portis still manages to include some strong ones who play prominent parts Indeed Masters of Atlantis suffers from an embarrassment of riches A Portis story by nature meanders but this one especially seems to wander nevertheless keeping the reader chuckling as it does so The extensive cast and the extended time frame are heavy burdens for Portis S Intimate And Collouial StyleWould That Portis Had Centered The intimate and collouial styleWould that Portis had centered the on the novel s most impressive creation Austin Popper the uintessential glad handler an irrepressible promoter who is sometimes facetious in a most unbecoming way with a vulgar inclination to make everything clear and a ready fund of information gleaned from newspapers and popular magazines When Momentum Flags You Can momentum flags you can on Austin Popper for a jump start When the wisdom of Atlantis fails to gain attention or funding it s Popper who offers the chance to harness secret powers tap hidden reserves plug in to the Telluric Currents An unforgettable character with a talk. Back in print Charles Portis's brilliant white comedy an unforgettable tale of secret societies Revived lost cities and sacred texts Followingast year's enthusiastically received reissue of Charles Portis's novels The Dog of the South and Norwood comes the republication of The Masters of Atlantis the third in Overlook's reissues of the novels of this American master This unforgettable novel centers on Lamar Jimmerson a man in the front ranks of the modern day Gnomon Society the international fraternal order dedicated to preserving the arcane wisdom of the ost city of Atlantis Stationed in France in 1917 Jimmerson comes across a Upid these people are given that there isn t a single scene that shows them otherwise I guess it was a joke Ho ho I got the strong impression that this would make a really good Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers movie the Coens directed the atest version of Portis best known novel True Grit great movie but I wasn t as impressed with the book Guess I m just not a Portis fan as it has the same kind of eccentric characters and absurd tone of movies ike Rush and Burn After Reading In their hands this material might well turn into gold but in Portis Masters of Atlantis remains a very dull and unremarkable novel about nothing There s underrated there s severely underrated and then there s Charles Portis one of the truly all time greatest writers you ve never heard of Oh sure you may be smart enough to know that he wrote the novel True Grit which of course was transformed into that Great American John Wayne film but did you have any inkling that that novel was oh roughly 43879 times better than the film I am in no way putting down the film which I actually ikeAnd this novel Masters of Atlantis is indescribably hilarious It s pitch perfect it keeps throwing curve balls right up to the very Love for Imperfect Things last page and you will never againook at Rosicrucians or Masons or any of those types in uite the same way ever again Which is also a good thingRe reading it just a week or two ago after having A Heart of Stone left it off for ages I m struck by just how much Portis can cram onto a single page And even while his sa About 70 pages into his fourth novel Charles Portis seems to decide to turn up the heat on his simmering cauldron of fun and set the whole mess to bubbling and popping cleanup be damned Masters of Atlantis 45 stars thereafter goes from a uite enjoyable fairly amusing tale to just about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on The problems albeit minor the novel has in getting untracked are due mostly to the setup and history building in this story of a secret and often not secret at all society dedicated to the arcane wisdom of theost city of Atlantis Once that s out of the way and the author spreads the focus from Gnomon Society eader Lamar Jimmerson to his minions and those odd souls forming splinter groups it s Katy bar the door Portis never really tells us about the Gnomon Society in any detail but that s sort of the point His characters believe deeply in this malarky and obfuscation and that s enough Clueless sincerity is a cornerstone of good humor I tend to be prickly about humorous novels achieving the right tone that world can wobble off its axis pretty easily for me but Masters of Atlantis with a gentlerollicking twist of accessible weirdness had me all the way The tale opens with World War I vet Jimmerson in France coming into possession of an arcane book the Codex Pappus a tome packed with gobbledygook and just maybe secret rites and knowledge of Atlantis and whatnot Lamar hits the ground running sharing his find with Sydney Hen an Englishman who eventually is to go a ittle rogue with his own Temple Lamar meanwhile now stateside conical Poma hat ever present sees his Gnomon Society headuartered in Burnette Ind but with Gnomon Pillars in Florida and Texas destined to survive as well wax and wane as the 1920s turn into the 30s and well beyond Lamar s right hand man Austin Popper finds #himself pursued by an FBI man sore as hell about being brusuely denied entry into the society and determined #pursued by an FBI man sore as hell about being brusuely denied entry into the society and determined nail Popper for avoiding service in WWI Later Lamar makes an ill fated bid for the governorship of Indiana a trip to Rainbow Falls State Park definitely not his campaign s proudest moment but one of the hilarious highlights for readers I won t soon forget the image of the journey in a seldom driven bald tired heap crawl I m now 45 on the Portis spree I ve been on since December now this Portis novel is definitely the funniest something in his delivery of sly Language and Linguistics little jokes will certainly remind you of the Coen Brothers Conan O Brien AND the Simpsons all at once I am pretty sure the guys who wrote the great Stonecutters Simpsons episode must haveoved the heck out of this book about a Atlantean secret society called the Gnomonsthat seems completely fradulent imagined and yet completely real in terms of fraudulent imagined socities Masters of Atlantis is full of shysters scholars real in terms of fraudulent imagined socities Masters of Atlantis is full of shysters scholars shysters and extremely talkative dreamers all drawn to one Lamar Jimmerson the first person to translate the Codux Pappus the Gnomons secret book of knowledge which to everyone else Divertimento looksike a bewildering assortment of theorems and triangles I didn t think you could get so much comedy mileage out of Love Is a Fairy Tale laughing at triangles but here we are I have one Portis bookeft to read and I am sad about it Lamar Jimmerson accidentally starts a thriving secret society Silliness ensuesLampooning the already wacky conspiracy Promise at Dawn literature genre doesn t take too much effort since the whole subset of A comic overview of the rise fall and sort of rise of a mid 20th century cult the peculiar and dishonest characters it attracts All the usual pleasures of a Portis story are here the deft sense of irony the brilliantly funny dialogue but operating along a narrative structure which whileoose is outside of the first person southern idiot voice he does in a ot of his other books Lots and ots of fun not uite True Grit but still well worth your time Charles Portis is an American treasure a teller of amazingly inventive shaggy dog stories an absolute master of tone and character his best master of tone and character His best book and the only one with a female protagonist is True Grit but his funniest and that s saying something is Masters of AtlantisIf you don t Bangkok Wakes to Rain like deadpan humor skip this book If you do read A cockeyed journey into an America of misfits and con men oddballs and innocents It is uintessential PortisMuch as Iove Charles Portis's other books I believe Masters of Atlantis takes off even higher into the comic empyrean Roy Blount JrPortis is the The Right Sort of Man (Sparks Bainbridge Mystery least known great writer in America Ron Rosenbaum Esuire Charles Portisives in Arkansas where he was born and educated He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War As a reporter he wrote for the New York Herald Tribune and was also its London bureau chief His first novel Norwood was published in 1966 His other novels are True Grit The Dog of the South and Gringos. .
characters Masters of Atlantis.
Ing blue jay he gives new meaning to the expression seize the moment Popper throttles itPopper s appearance before the Churton Committee of the Texas Senate investigating the recent infestation of the state by various cults sects communes cells covens nature tribes and secret societies is absolutely priceless It is his personality that makes wading through the digressions amusing as they are of Masters of Atlantis worth it What makes an American novel What makes a great novel And what makes the Great American Novel Masters of Atlantis isn t the Great American Novel that elusive white whale of navel gazing twentieth century writers but it is great and to judge by the jacket copy on every single one of his books extremely American I agree with that sentiment although I really can t say why Obviously the fact that it s set in America makes it American in some way but I think what those reviewers are trying to get at is that there s something about the way Portis presents the events in his book that a foreigner just couldn t replicate Since plenty of non natives from have written great books both set in and about the US it s worth thinking about why Portis works get grouped in with Mark Twain s and not Vladimir Nabokov s I think it s mostly due to the brilliantly intimate way that Portis sketches his characters who usually fall into two main archetypes credulous yokels and self confident hustlersRight from the very first page of this book when WW1 soldier Lamar Jimmerson is convinced to pay 200 for the secret magisteria of the egendary Gnomon Society by a man who is variously called Nick from Turkey or Mike from Egypt or Jack from Syria or Robert from Malta Portis sets up a great story with fascinating characters The actual con that begins the story is over in a matter of pages but the childlike faith with which Lamar pursues his dreams of being a Gnomon whose Pythagorean rituals and Et si la maladie n'tait pas un hasard ? lore involving cones and spirals and triangles are never described completely but alluded to constantly sustains not only him but at one point thousands of others who flock to his banner Early on he meets the Englishman Sydney Hen who convinces him to share in his secrets and with the eventual arrival of diabolically inventive henchman Austin Popper the rest of the book unfolds in hilarious overlappingayers of bullshit as the Society rises splinters and falls and Popper strikes out on his own all over the map as a demented bibulous berfraud This is on one evel a classic satire of American society which has always been made up of joiners and mystics and truth seekers There is no club or fraternal organization so ridiculous that it can t find a membership of willing dupes partly this reflects our sheer size and partly it also reflects the perennial tendency for such a materialistic society to find Higher Meaning in all sorts of things I think there s a fairly clear continuum from the Great Awakenings through Sixties spiritualism and up to the Jesus Camps of the present dayBut what could have been a bitter polemic about American stupidity is a genial affectionate comedy about ost souls and though there s some scenes of decay and humiliation that darken the tone of the book overall Portis knows that America needs its P T Barnums and that a world without them would be much grayer Popper s drunken wanderings comprise most of the action in the second part of the book and if you don t Scraps Of The Untainted Sky laugh outoud when he tries to convince the War Department to use compressed air you don t The Eric Carle Gift Set laugh outoud when he tries to convince the War Department to use compressed air a weapon or when he tries to conjure gold up out of the earth with Golescu the Romanian s bagweed plants or at any of the other scenes that rank right up there with Huck Finn s encounter with the Duke and the Dauphin then you simply have no sense of humor whatsoever Where Portis falls short of someone Huguenot Prophecy and Clandestine Worship in the Eighteenth Century like Twain is that he doesn t really tackle serious issuesike racism but no book can be all things to all people so it wasn t a problem for me I hope he stops not writing books we could use from him A couple of gullible fools are conned into believing a book of gibberish contains the mysteries of the universe They establish a secret society based around the text and spend the rest of their Fashion Design Course lives being idiotsCharles Portis Masters of Atlantis is aight comedysatire on cults and secret societies that should never have been a full Aeralis (The Frost Chronicles, length novel given whatittle substance there is here There s no plot or story just a revolving door of dipshits pretending to each other that they re wise trying their hands at bizarre get rich uick schemes Alternatives Chapter 2 (The Chronos Files; The Shattered Saga like alchemy and attempting to grow their cult across America by obtaining a measure of influence in the US government which they of course fail at Watching the two deluded self appointed masters convince themselves of their brilliance was amusing at first but once you realise early on that it s not going anywhere and is basically repeating itself with one moron after another believing they re onto some major secret that doesn t exist it becomes oh so tiresome One character towards the end sums up the reading experience well with You get hardly any sense of movement or destination so I think Portis was ateast aware of what he had with this turkey It s not a successful comedy I never aughed once because there s nothing really funny here nor does it say anything especially worthwhile about secret societies or the psychology behind its members Portis does keep most of what the Gnomon society is about enshrouded in mystery for the reader throughout which is cleverly #appropriate given the subject matter until we get a passage from their #given the subject matter until we get a passage from their towards the end which reveals that it s full of unreadable meaningless drivel But we didn t really need to underline how st. Ittle book crammed with Atlantean puzzles Egyptian riddles and extended alchemical metaphors the Codex Pappussaid to be the sacred Gnomonic text Soon he is basking in the ore of ost Atlantis convinced that his mission on earth is to administer and expand the ranks of this noble brotherhood Taking us through the entire New Cycle of Gnomonismthrough the publication of Jimmerson's own Gnomonic texts through the scandalous schism that rocks the Gnomonic community through Jimmerson's disastrous bid for the governorship of Indiana to the fateful gathering of Gnomons in a mobile home park in East Texas Masters of Atlantis is. ,