Wednesday, February 01, 2017

First Wednesdayy Book Review: TRUE GRIT

I read Charles Portis" TRUE GRIT between the two movie versions. Some people prefer one film to the other but the source material is so strong, I loved them both. And Portis has written several other first rate novels as I am sure regular readers of this blog know. 
 
When I saw a copy at a flea market for $.25 I decided the time had come. I grabbed the book and read it in a matter of hours. The voice of its protagonist, Mattie Ross, was just that compelling. When a writer can create a voice that you can't turn away from, that is magic. The story was simple but told well. It stuck doggedly, as doggedly as Mattie, to Mattie's quest for justice with very few segues.

Mattie Ross is a straight-talking girl from Arkansas who's just lost her father to a deceitful farmhand. Justice for this murder will only be achieved if Mattie can capture Chaney herself.

Chaney, the murderer, is "trash" hired by Mattie's father out of pity. The two men go to Fort Smith to buy horses, and Mr. Ross ends up dead after being robbed by Chaney.

Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn, the toughest deputy she can find, insisting on accompanying him despite repeated attempts to throw her off the trail. He is a one-eyed, trigger-happy drunk but with a lot of the "grit" the impresses a young girl.

Joined by a Texas Ranger, named La Boeuf, chasing Chaney for another crime. the three run down Chaney, now part of the Ned Pepper gang, and win themselves justice though at some cost. The book ends as Mattie, a spinster, tells us about the final days of each of the three posse members.

The book is framed by the conceit of an old woman telling a story from her youth. We see what happens through her eyes, the eyes of a young girl. You can't help falling in love with Cogburn and Mattie by the end of the book. True Grit applies to both of them equally. This is surely a classic American story. I wonder if it's on school reading lists.

For more reviews, see Barrie Summy's blog right here. 

17 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I love this book and everything else Portis has written.

Charles Gramlich said...

I liked it quite a bit. Was one of the first books I read with an Arkansawyer as a protag.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I guess that is rarer than it should be.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I don't think it is on school reading lists, but perhaps it should be. I loved it too, and I've read several more of his books since - Norwood, The Dogs of the South, and Gringos.

Steve Oerkfitz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Oerkfitz said...

Someone is posting under my name again.
I love True Grit and read all of Portis's books.
I prefer the Coen Brothers movie. It stays closer to the book and has better casting. I find Kim Darby in the first to be obnoxious and not much of a actress. And Glen Campbell has no acting ability at all.

Steve Oerkfitz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alyssa Goodnight said...

Does Clint Eastwood star in one of the movies? If so, I'm sure I watched part of it at one time. Sounds very good--thanks for the review!

And congratulations on your Edgar nomination!! How exciting!

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Another post not mine. The 2:34 and the 2:18 are not mine.
Alyssa. Clint is in neither. First starred John Wayne. The second Jeff Bridges.

Linda McLaughlin said...

True Grit is a true Western classic. I enjoyed the first movie, but haven't seen the second one.

Congrats on being an Edgar finalist! Awesome.

Margot Kinberg said...

This is definitely one of those classics, Patti.

George said...

I'm a big fan of Charles Portis. The guy is amazing because his novels are all completely different. I love the characters in TRUE GRIT and I've enjoyed both movie versions.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Always admire a writer who never writes the same book twice.

Barrie said...

My husband loved the movies, especially the John Wayne version. I'm getting him this book. Thank you for reviewing!

Barrie said...

Hey, Patti! Did you see the review on my blog? Not a kid's book this month ;) I think you might like the book (or perhaps you've already read it!)...The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe (adult, Scandinavian mystery).

troutbirder said...

There you go. I finally have to get to reading it. I actually enjoyed both movies...:)

Sarah Laurence said...

I like how you read the book between both movie versions! Cool review!