True Grit by Charles Portis (Arkansas author)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book source: Library copy
Sensitive reader: mild descriptions of gun shot wounds, gun fighting and SNAKES!
Mattie Ross, a 14 year old dynamo, is out to exact vengeance on one Tom Chaney, a former work hand for her family. Tom has killed her father, and whether she has help or not, she is determined to bring Tom back to Forth Smith and Judge “Hanging” Parker for justice.
Mattie is able to secure for $100 the assistance of a one-eyed Marshall, Rooster Cogburn. Thus they begin their quest into Indian Territory for the renegade Chaney.
Mattie Ross has become my new favorite adolescent heroine – she’s Scout Finch, but rides a horse and carries a revolver. She shoots, squirms, saves herself from snakes and survives to tell her tale.
The other characters are equally as colorful: Rooster is a former felon, turned law-man with a proclivity to drink. Even though I didn’t see the original movie, John Wayne’s image was superimposed on my brain throughout the novel and it was a PERFECT image. The two also meet up with LeBoeuf, a Texas Ranger who is also on the trail of the menacing Chaney. A somewhat bumbling figure, LeBoeuf adds enough variety to their trifecta to make it interesting.
The prose in this book is stark and sharp – and surprisingly funny! I read it in the car on our way to Tulsa, [and through ALL the major towns mentioned in the story: Dardanelle, Fort Smith, Fort Gibson Indian Territory (now Oklahoma)], and I laughed out loud at many of the passages. Mattie when describing her opinion of men said, “Men will live like Billy goats if they are let alone.” True Mattie, so very true.
In short, I loved this book.
And Mr. Portis lives a few blocks from my house – you think if I go camp out on his porch he would sign a book for me?!
And for a treat, here is the movie trailer:
Melissa Mc is a mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary. Her book reviews and other ruminations can be found at Gerbera Daisy Diaries