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True Grit

A book by Charles Portis

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The Great American Western Novel

  • Apr 19, 2012
A Western novel written in the form of a first-person account from a grown-up Mattie Ross, TRUE GRIT is kind of a 19th century version of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, but instead of Atticus Finch there's Rooster Cogburn and instead of Bob Ewell there's Tom Chaney. Speaking from the present of 1928, Mattie recalls the story of an adventure she took in 1875 when she was only fourteen. Her beloved father was murdered senselessly at the hands of a drifter and former ranch hand named Tom Chaney. Mattie hears rumor that after killing her father and stealing his money, Tom Chaney has joined the gang of an outlaw named "Lucky Ned Pepper. Mattie is determined that Chaney receive justice for his crime, but she knows it is a task she cannot complete alone. So, she hires Marshall Rooster Cogburn to be her guide and assist her in her quest. Also in the mix is a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf who is tracking Chaney for a reward in Texas. LaBoeuf and Cogburn don't like each much, but they eventually join forces. At first they try to leave Mattie behind, but she refuses to be left behind. They travel into the wilderness to seek Ned Pepper's gang and capture Chaney. Along the way the learn a great deal about themselves and form a bond with each other.

Upon learning about the 2010 film adaptation by the Coen brothers, I picked up and read TRUE GRIT for the first time. I haven't read too many Westerns and most of those I have, have not been very good. However, TRUE GRIT is a great novel. Some scholars consider it one of the great American novels, right next to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GREAT GATSBY, HUCKLERRY FINN, and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. It's not difficult to see why. At its core the book is a coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the "grand adventure" plot and the setting is all American.

Portis had a true knack for capturing the particular vernacular of a particular time and place because the dialect and word choices in the novel or spot-on for the time period and setting. Despite this, the book is a fairly easy read. Even those who don't enjoy reading can't complain that, "I don't understand this," or "This is too hard."

I thoroughly enjoyed TRUE GRIT. It's one of those rare books that I think I shall revisit at some point in my life. Highly recommended.

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April 20, 2012
This is a good review-a good book and a good movie.
More True Grit reviews
review by . December 04, 2010
I read True Grit, Charles Portis's short novel that provided the basis for the John Wayne/Glenn Campbell movie in 1969, in preparation for the soon to be released Coen Brothers remake.   I can't remember if I saw the original, but I am definitely looking forward to the latest from the Brothers, as I have seen and reviewed all their movies in the last year.      If the book is any measure of the movies, they must be classics.  :Portis writes in a spare matter-of-fact …
review by . January 28, 2011
Having seen both the old and new movie versions of "True Grit" I decided to read the book and see how faithful each was to the original work. Surprisingly, I found that each in its own way followed the book, although there were subtle differences, especially the endings.      That being said, I must confess to have enjoyed this book tremendously. The writing was excellent (the language especially), and the plot kept the reader moving along. The device of using the grown-up …
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About this book


True Grit by Charles Portis first appeared as a 1968 serial in The Saturday Evening Post. Portis subsequently re-issued it in book form with a somewhat changed storyline. In 1969, True Grit was adapted for the screen as an American Western film starring John Wayne, which spawned a sequel in 1975 entitled Rooster Cogburn. Another adaptation, also called True Grit, was made in 2010 by the Coen Brothers, starring Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.

"Tom Wolfe, who worked with Portis as a reporter at theNew York Herald-Tribunein the early 1960s called him 'the original laconic cutup.' A generation of novelists since then have simply regarded him as a writers' writer and have made his name a sort of secret password. Soon, they'll no longer have him to themselves." --Rolling StoneMagazine

"An epic and a legend."--The Washington Post

"Like Mark Twain'sHuckleberry Finnand Thomas Berger'sLittle Big Man, Charles Portis'sTrue Gritcaptures the naïve elegance of the American voice."--Jonathan Lethem

"An instant classic... Read it and have the most fun you've had reading a novel in years, maybe decades."--Newsday

"Skillfully constructed, a comic tour de force."--The New York Times Book Review

"Charles Portis details the savagery of the 1870s frontier through an astonishing narrative voice: that of the 14-year-old Mattie Ross, a flinty, skeptical, ...
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ISBN-10: 159020459X
ISBN-13: 978-1590204597
Author: Charles Portis
Genre: Western
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: 1968
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