If You Like This Scene about the Clamp, Then You Should Try "The Dog of the South"

Do you like to read? Do you like a book that makes you laugh? Do you not mind if it's a bit quirky?

Then read The Dog of the South by Charles Portis.

I share below one of my favorite scenes in the book: the discussion about the inventions of the clamp.

The Dog of the South and the Invention of the Clamp

In The Dog of the South, Ray Midge takes a trip to central America to find his wife, Norma.

During the trip, he gives a ride to a man named Dr. Reo Symes, who recounts his days as a medical student at Wooten Institute in New Orleans:

Dr. Wooten "invented clamps."

Dr. Wooten "invented clamps."

He ended the long account by saying that Dr. Wooten "invented clamps."

"Medical clamps?" I idly inquired.

"No, just clamps. He invented the clamp."

"I don't understand that. What kind of clamp are you talking about?"

"Clamps! Clamps! That you hold two things together with! Can't you understand plain English?"

"Are you saying this man made the first clamp?"

"He got a patent on it. He invented the clamp."

"No, he didn't."

"Then who did?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know. And you don't know Smitty Wooten either but you want to tell me he didn't invent the clamp."

Dr. Reo Symes's defense of his old teacher — Smitty Wooten — is touching in an odd way.

But I thought of this scene only because earlier I mentioned my bewilderment in the face of various clamps and such.

If you have never read Charles Portis's The Dog of the South, you should. It's funny.