Monday, September 3, 2007

Charles Portis/TRUE GRIT

The 1968 classic on which the John Wayne movie by the same title is based. Post-Civil War Arkansas: Mattie Ross is 14 years old when her unarmed father is shot dead by a drunken hired hand and robbed of all his possessions and his horse. Mattie is going to have her revenge. She sets out to find a US Marshall with "true grit" to trek with her into Indian territory to find the escaped criminal and bring him down.

I read this book on a recommendation despite the fact that I'm usually deterred by "Westerns." I really did enjoy this, though. There are so many subtleties--Mattie is only giving you a straight-up first person narrative of her actions, but Portis hides a lot of psychology in his very bare prose--all rendered for the most part convincingly in the voice of a stubborn, angry, unattractive teenage girl. Despite when the book was written and when it takes place Portis falls into very few traps in dating himself or making the book less appropriate/kosher for modern audiences (a la Mammy in GONE WITH THE WIND). The ending in particular offers some things to think about.

This is a quick read but an interesting one.


Froog said...

I was intrigued as to what comments might be in the 'Afterword by Donna Tartt'. But maybe the jacket picture you posted wasn't of the edition you read?

moonrat said...

No, actually I didn't bother with her Afterword. Well, I read the first couple of paragraphs, but it felt like a long endorsement (albeit a well-written one). She says that she remembers the book from her childhood and it's one of the few books she comes back to again and again and again and loves more each time.

(I love Donna Tartt, by the way. LOVE.)