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True Grit Paperback – August 28, 2007
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Pierced by the Sun
A gripping tale of murder and redemption by the author of Like Water for Chocolate. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
But enough about me. "True Grit" is such a great read, full of jokes. I know I won't do them justice but here are a couple of scenes I like: The degenerate Marshall Rooster Cockburn lives in the back of a general store with a Chinese guy and a cat called Genera Price. He sleeps in a string bed (!) and shoots a rat during a business meeting with Mattie, the 14-year-old protagonist out after her father's killer. Or after Mattie tries to buy a horse from a local business man, vexing him beyond all limits, the business man sees her walking up the path and says "I heard tell of a young girl drowning in a well last night. But I can see you are fine." And the horse Blackie is such a good horse and the scene near the tail of the book where Blackie meets his end is so succinct and sad!
This is a great book that I think just about everyone would enjoy from 10-year-olds to 75 year-olds
Portis is supposedly holed up in a fishing shack in Arkansas writing a new book. I have a google search on his name to keep track of all Portis activity! I can't wait!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The characters are vivid, lovable and remarkable!! Truly, a wonderful book, I can imagine reading it again and again! Can't believe how wonderfully written it was.Published 7 days ago by Kindle Customer
It was just okay glad it was a fast read... reminded me of the movie with John Wayne.Published 22 days ago by maggie bothum
Having seen only the original movie of True Grit, I had no idea how complex and forceful the character of Mattie was meant to be as portrayed in the book. Read morePublished 22 days ago by A. Berry
Everyone knows True Grit from the movie(s). Whether it's the John Wayne or Jeff Bridges version of the "One Eyed Fat Man" you remember, most people only know the film(s). Read morePublished 25 days ago by Bill K
This is my second Charles Portis novel. The first I read was "Norwood". These are both two of my absolute favorite works of modern fiction by a living author. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Francis C. Donnelly