October 24th, 2011


Book Review: True Grit, by Charles Portis

The most single-mindedly determined 14-year-old girl in the history of the West seeks justice for her father.

True Grit

Simon & Schuster, 1968, 215 pages

Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, sets out to avenge her Daddy who was shot to death by a no-good outlaw. Mattie convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest U.S. marshal in the land, to ride along with her. In True Grit, we have a true American classic, as young Mattie, as vital as she is innocent, outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten men of the trail in a legend that will last through the ages.

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Verdict: The movies are almost as good as the book, but read the book to hear the story told by the toughest little girl ever to roam the Wild West. If Mattie Ross had an ounce of humility, self-consciousness, self-awareness, or reasonableness, she wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, but she doesn't, which makes her awesome. A very simple, engaging story with great characters (even though Mattie outshines them all), True Grit is a true classic which should be enjoyed even by people who don't normally like westerns. Personally, I think it should be on the books1001 list. It may not exactly be "literary," but there are certainly books on the 1001 books list that are neither as "classic" nor as good as True Grit.