True Grit

Thursday, November 21, 2013

True Grit
by Charles Portis

I can’t believe I put this one off for so long. When I finally picked it up I didn’t put it down until I was done. I’m not a fan of westerns, but this is another one of those genre defying books that defies categorization. It is part thriller, part coming-of-age, and part western. It has a quick moving plot and fantastic characters.

I’ve never read anything quite like the voice of Mattie Ross. At only 14 years of age she decides to avenge her father’s murder. But instead of heading off to the city with a gun and a fiery temper she methodically arranges to have his body sent home, collects his belongs, barters with a horse seller and hires a US Marshall to help her track his murderer. She is just fantastic.

The US Marshal is another great character. Rooster Cogburn operates by his own morality code. It might not make sense to others, but it’s certainly there. One of my favorite parts of the book is seeing how Mattie turned out as an adult. She’s telling the story about when she was 14, but she’s already an older woman at the beginning of the novel.

BOTTOM LINE: A classic and one I’ll reread in the future. It’s a rare treat to find a character like Mattie Ross.  

“You must pay for everything in the world one way or another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.”

** I saw the Coen brothers’ film version and it is just excellent. Make sure you check it out if you read the book!


Bybee said...

I love this book so hard!

Lisa said...

I'm not sure I even knew this was a book! I'm not a fan of Westerns in general, but you've convinced me I need to look for this - thanks!

Heather said...

"When I finally picked it up I didn’t put it down until I was done. I’m not a fan of westerns, but this is another one of those genre defying books that defies categorization."

This sounds like me talking about Lonesone Dove! Have you read that one? You should, if not!

I guess I'll be adding this to my extensive list of books I need to read!

Unknown said...

I thought the same thing when i finally read this book. Seriously, why did I wait so long? Such a great book!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bybee - It's so good!

Lisa - I'm not either, but it was definitely the characters and not the setting that made this one so memorable.

Heather - Yes! That's probably the only other western I've ever read. I took a road trip out west through the South Dakota badlands and then blew through the whole book when I got back home. I loved it! I still think about those characters.

Tiffany - Wasn't it wonderful!

Andi said...

Yay! Yes. I definitely want to read this one. It's been on my TBR for quite a while now.

Laura said...

I've literally read two westerns in my life (this and The Sisters Brothers) and even though I would still say 'I don't really read Westerns) I love them both so so incredibly much! I may never know how different or similar they are to other Westerns though.

Sarah said...

I love Mattie!!! One of the best female characters I've read in AGES.

When people say "Westerns", I think they think of those little weekly or monthly serial novels that come out - like Harlequins, but westerns. And of course there are novels like these that are Western in the actual sense of the term, but the genre gets a reputation for super short books with so-so writing.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Andi - It's a super fast read!

Laura - The Sisters Brothers is high on my TBR list. I keeping hearing how great it is!

Sarah - That's what I think of too, but there are definitely some great books that would fit in that genre.

Carl V. Anderson said...

My wife just read this recently and thought it was fantastic. Like you this was way outside what she normally reads. In fact, I was completely shocked when she brought it home from the library. We have yet to watch the latest film adaptation, but I'd like to do that sometime soon.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Carl - It's really an excellent film! Sometimes it's fun to read something completely out of your comfort zone!