• by Charles Portis
  • Narrated by Barrett Whitener
  • 4 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Out of the American neon desert of roller domes, chili parlors, The Grand Ole Opry, and girls who want "to live in a trailer and play records all night", comes ex-marine and troubadour Norwood Pratt. Sent on a mission to New York by Grady Fring, the Kredit King, Norwood has visions of "speeding across the country in a late model car, seeing all the sights". Instead, he gets involved in a wild journey that takes him in and out of stolen cars, freight trains, and buses. By the time he returns home to Ralph, Texas, Norwood has met his true love, Rita Lee, on a Trailways bus; befriended Edmund B. Ratner, the second shortest midget in show business and "the world's smallest perfect fat man"; and helped Joann, "the chicken with a college education", to realize her true potential in life. As with all of Portis' fiction, the tone is cool, sympathetic, funny, and undeniably American.


What the Critics Say

"The least known great writer in America." (Esquire)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Norwood: an amusing, rambling road odyssey

While not for all tastes, "Norwood" is Charles Portis' first novel and one that displays the author's fondness for wry observational humor and quirky characters. Norwood Pratt accepts a job to drive a car cross-country for a shady businessman, all in the hopes of collecting $70 from a friend in New York City. The real joy of this tale lies in watching Norwood's interactions with the strange, colorful people that he meets along the way, and how the hero's unwavering simple worldview gets him into and out of trouble. My favorite encounter? It's a toss-up between the flying sausage patty aimed at Bill Bird and the bus ride of Joanne the Wonder Hen.

This is a story where the details are much more rewarding than the plot itself. Narrator Barrett Whitener does a great job bringing the book and its characters to Tex-Arkana life, and the audiobook was perfect to listen to on a recent road trip of my own.
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- Jason

Brilliant, but not for everyone

Any additional comments?

This book is brilliant on so many levels and no doubt gets better and funnier with subsequent listens. Characters are simultaneously bizarre and humdrum, yet so real. The dialogue is rich and flawless and the narrator was perfect. While the book’s plot is shallow – there aren’t many twists and turns or high adventure – there is tremendous depth just under the surface.

Having said all that, I prefer non-fiction so I probably won’t listen to this one again.

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- Diane

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-07-2005
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.