A couple weeks ago I borrowed a copy of True Grit from a friend. I was low on reading material and she said it was good…. Heck, she was right! I actually took nearly a week to read it because I read a chapter at a time, then stopped and savored it. At first the voice felt awkward, and almost a little forced, but over time it grew on me to the point that the voice of 14-year old Mattie Ross defined the book. There was no romance, no car chases (although there were a few on horseback :D), and the gore was relatively low. So it would sound surprising if I said that the book still managed to hold my rapt attention every second… but it would be absolutely true.
Charles Portis is a literary genius, but not nearly as recognized as the others of his caliber. He pushes the very limits of how far voice can play into a story. He tells such outrageous stories that you know they could never happen in real life– yet when you finish the last page you feel like you just read a biography. There was no happy-ending take-away lesson: from the beginning, Mattie wanted revenge. At the end she did not realize that being nice or thoughtful was more important than that. She was going to get what she wanted, and what she wanted was Tom Chaney with a bullet or sixteen pockmarking his head.
Not a kid’s book, yet told in first person by a fourteen year old girl. Not an “adult” novel, either. From what I can tell, this book belongs to everybody who doesn’t mind a dose of real life in their fiction.
Ten minutes ago we finished the movie (the 2010 one, although we also have the ’69 one on netflix for this weekend). While I’ll grant I slept through a good portion of it (not because it was boring, I promise XD), the parts I did see were satisfying. It followed the book fairly closely, diverging a little in the middle to condense the 215-page novel into an 111 minute movie.
But, most importantly, it still carried the heart of the book. Although the events varied slightly, Rooster Cogburn was still the gruff but loveable, wise-beyond-years and always-a-story-to-tell marshal. LaBouef still had his cowlick and arrogant grin. Mattie still made grown men quake with her determination. The West is displayed in all its’ glory and spirit– which is why True Grit has been hailed as “one of the great American novels”.
Unfortunately, no HFGS 😉
La Bouef: ” While I sat there watchin’ I gave some thought to stealin’ a kiss… though you are very young, and sick… and unattractive to boot. But now I have a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt. ”
Mattie: “One would be just as unpleasant as the other.”