Monday, December 19, 2016

"True Grit" by Charles Portis

The only good thing about having a bad cold is it gives me an excuse to just sit down and read.  I've polished off five books in five days, which is really making me feel so much more sane about my reading load heading into Christmas :-)

I've read this once before, back around the time the new movie version came out, so like five years ago.  I love so many things about it -- the flavor, Mattie herself, the way it's basically a classic myth set in the Old West.  Mattie Ross is such a determined, intelligent, and yet believable fourteen-year-old, and I love her.  She sets out to capture her father's murderer, enlisting the meanest Federal Marshal she can find, Rooster Cogburn.  She doesn't want Texas Ranger LaBeouf to come along, but can't prevent him, and by the end of the adventure, she's glad he was there.  There's a lot of danger and excitement here, and just a little tragedy.

When I think of this book, though, what I usually think of first is the unique flavor, especially of the narration.  Portis gives Mattie a very blunt, yet old-fashioned voice that somehow manages not to be stilted even though it is rather formal at times.  The other characters speak similarly as well.  There aren't a lot of contractions.  And it amuses me to no end.  I laugh a lot during this book, both over the delightful style and the odd things that happen.  There are a few examples below.

Particularly Good Bits:

If Papa had a failing it was his kindly disposition.  People would use him.  I did not get my mean streak from him (p. 13).

At the city police station we found two officers but they were having a fist fight and were not available for inquiries (p. 21).

Mattie... you are a pearl of great price to me, but there are times when you are an almighty trial to those who love you (p. 87).

"I was born game, sis, and hope to die in that condition" (p. 94).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for some bad language, scary situations, violence, and gore.



Although this book is only 48 years old right now, I am counting it for my Classics Club challenge anyway because it is otherwise very classic, and I am sure people will be valuing it for generations to come.  So this is my 54th book read and reviewed for the Classics Club.

13 comments:

  1. It sounds like they have more character than the movie I've seen. I can't wait to read it!
    And, I think 48 is close enough.

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    1. MovieCritic, which version have you seen? I think the newer one captures the book's flavor best, though John Wayne was a good Rooster Cogburn too.

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  2. This has been on my TBR list for a while...I haven't read much in the Western genre, but it sounds like a book I'd enjoy.

    Hope you feel better and get well soon!

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    1. MH, it's a quirky and unusual western, and I think that those who don't necessarily like "normal westerns" would still really dig it.

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  3. I would count it as a classic. It's one of my all time favorites!

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  4. I loved this novel when I read it, which was also when the movie remake was released. I've been meaning to pick up one of his other novels since.

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    1. Rob, yes, I should really try one of his other books. I'll have to see if the library has any.

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  5. Great review Hamlette! I second every word! :D I adored the Coen's adaptation but I think I adored this even more. It is a really accurate adaptation... but one thing about the book that I think neither movie did quite right is LaBoeuf. I really loved the book version of him. Because of the way Mattie saw him. It's hard to put that in a movie, I guess, but in the book she seemed to genuinely not care about how silly he was. I liked that. :)

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! You're so right that neither film captures Mattie's "oh, just another silly adult" attitude. She knows she's more mature than him, and she's so used to being more adult that adults that it doesn't even really bug her.

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    2. Yes! And then even more than that, thinking and knowing that, she still likes him, and values him! I thought that was neat. :)

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    3. That's so true, Sarah. Maybe it's because she appreciates people who like and value her even though she's unusual?

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    4. That's a good explanation. Aw. :)

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