Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Review: True Grit by Charles Portis

True Grit by Charles Portis

Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year old girl in late 1800s Arkansas, is determined to avenge her father's death. He was killed by Tom Chaney, a hired hand who had too much to drink and too much darkness in his past. Mattie travels to Fort Smith (where her father was killed) to finish her father's business there (some horse trading) and to seek retribution. She hires the toughest U. S. Marshall in town, Rooster Cogburn, who is a man of true grit by all accounts. Chaney has fled into the Indian Territory (that's Oklahoma nowadays). Cogburn is familiar with the area and with Lucky Ned Pepper, an outlaw with whom Chaney has joined. Texas Ranger LaBoeuf has also come to town seeking Chaney for the murder of a senator and the senator's dog in Texas. Cogburn and LaBoeuf team up and Mattie insists on coming along.

The story is told by Mattie, who definitely has a distinct voice. She is no non-sense and feisty, speaking her mind to other people in the story and to the readers. She had been managing the books for her family and is both very intelligent and very opinionated. The law officers try to leave her behind several times but she outwits them. Her frankness is charming and she "writes" like someone from an earlier time.

The plot is engaging and moves along quickly. Mattie and Cogburn are interesting and well-developed characters. Even with seeing the two movie versions (the John Wayne classic and the Coen Brothers' version) before reading (but not just before reading), the book is enjoyable, showcasing Mattie's distinctive voice and world view along with the interesting plot, action, and comedy.


No comments:

Post a Comment