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TRUE GRIT Hardcover – June 10, 1968

438 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June 10, 1968
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--This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.

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Editorial Reviews


"A new film version of True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld, is just out: don't see it until you've read, and wondered at the brilliance of, the real thing." Christina Hardyment, The Times (audiobook review) "Charles Portis is perhaps the most original talent overlooked by literary culture in America." Esquire "It is a pleasure to be able to recommend a novel wholeheartedly... an instant classic." Newsday "What book has given me greater pleasure in the last five years? Or in the last twenty? I do not know. What a writer!" Roald Dahl" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Charles Portis lives in Arkansas, where he was born and educated. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, was the London bureau chief of the New York Herald-Tribune, and was a writer for The New Yorker. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster; 1st edition (June 10, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671763806
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671763800
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (438 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,293,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 146 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Maxwell on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I love this novel, having stumbled across it in a used bookstore some 20 years ago, having read it expecting not much more than stilted prose and shootouts, and having returned to it again and again since that first reading.

It's written in the first person, kind of like a memoir, by an old woman describing a youthful adventure. And what an adventure! Shootouts are the least of it.

Mattie Ross, the adolescent girl, is stingy, opinionated, unsentimental, and as tough as John Wayne, if not as big and strong. She conforms to Northrop Frye's concept of the "ironic" hero -- too naive to understand the things she's dealing with, like Voltaire's "Candide." When her ability to keep up during the pursuit of some outlaws is questioned, she answers defiantly, "Pappa took me on a coon hunt once." Camping overnight with the two lawmen, she registers a succinct complaint, "One of the officers made a wet snoring sound. It was disgusting."

But the prose is delirious throughout, like the events they describe. There's a laugh on almost every page, far too many to give examples. I should mention too that the prose is historically and regionally accurate. About a bucket of milk, Matty says, "It looks like bluejohn to me." I looked up "bluejohn" in the Dictionary of American Regional English, and there it was, an old term used in and around Arkansas for skim milk. Likewise, kerosene becomes coal oil. Tall scrubby weeds are a "brake." And all of these regionalisms are woven into a prose style that is memorably idiosyncratic and unintentionally funny as all get out! Rooster Cogburn intends to shoot an unsuspecting man in the back because, "It will give them to know our intentions is serious." Now that's a sentence to savor. First of all, there is the absurdity of the plan.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Carol Madsen on November 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure what more I can say than, "Wow!" I don't know if I've ever been more surprised by a book. I ran across it a few times in the library and thought about checking it out, but then I kept remembering that John Wayne won his only Oscar in the movie version (which I haven't seen), and I don't really care for John Wayne, so that must have subconsciously led me to keep leaving it on the shelf. But, I finally picked it up, took it home, dipped into it -- and was instantly hooked. This is a gripping book about the single-minded pursuit justice in the 1870s, written in the amazing voice of a deadpan, plain-speaking prose of a woman looking back at the events some 30-40 years later.

Mattie Ross's beloved rancher father was murdered by a drunk hired hand while they were away on business, and Mattie's ineffectual mother sends her to town to collect the body. She does so, but also seeks out a U.S. Marshall whom she can tempt into heading into the Indian Territory of modern-day Oklahoma to track down and kill or capture the murderer. The crusty lawman she eventually hires has his flaws, including a taste for the drink and sordid service in the Civil War with Quantrill's Raiders (or one of the other loose raiding companies). But he also has a code he follows which makes him the right match for Mattie, who sees life in black and white absolutes. They are joined by a Texas lawman pursing the man for another crime (and substantial bounty) and the trio head off to find their man. Adventures and surprises ensue, including plenty of shooting and killing -- all recounted in the sparse and often unintentionally funny voice of the elder Mattie. Her voice is singular and riveting, making Mattie instantly into one of my favorite characters in American literature. The book is a true masterpiece- I'm buying 10 copies and giving them out as Christmas presents.
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59 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Jym Cherry on November 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
Charles Portis' "True Grit" is the story of Mattie Ross a 14 year old girl in the old west circa 1875. After her father is murdered Mattie goes in search of justice for him and falls in with U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn who, along with Texas Ranger, LaBeouf follow the murderer into the Indian Territory. The story is familiar to most because of the 1969 movie starring John Wayne. With the release of the Coen Brothers "True Grit" I wanted to see what the book was like.

Mattie Ross is beyond precocious. She's practical, stubborn, judgmental and has grit enough herself to hire the orneriest U.S. Marshall she can find and embark on an adventure into a life she wasn't born to and had her father not been killed probably wouldn't have known anything of the world she ventures into. Cogburn is a Marshall that has tenuous connections to both the world of the law and the outlaw and when he meets Mattie he's working in the world that pays the best, at the moment. Cogburn's voice fairly booms off the page (and it's hard not to hear Wayne's voice in them), but Mattie's voice also has it's character more diminutive but no less strong. Portis develops the characters mostly through their voice and you won't be mistaken about who's talking or what they're saying. The story is so simply told it could almost be part of an oral tradition and told from the point of view of Mattie remembering back upon her life maybe that's the way it was intended.

In Donna Tartt's afterward she compares Mattie to Huck Finn and Ahab, but I think she may be reading too much into it that isn't there. "True Grit" is Mattie practical and plainspoken. Mattie says exactly what's on her mind and in the story Portis tells us exactly what's there (not even what isn't there), and usually only enough to move the story along.
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