Book Report: True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)

As you know, I read the sequel, of sorts, to this book earlier this year. So when I found the actual novel upon which the movie True Grit was based, I snapped it up. A two-fer of sorts; I like paperback movie tie-ins/source novels for some reason.

This book is exceptional. The book relies on a double-effect narrator, an elderly spinster recounting her trip into Choctaw country to find the man who shot down her father. At the time, she’s 14 and rather precocious, although let’s not forget that there was a time when 14 was an adult for all intents and purposes. She hires Deputy Marshal Rooster Cogburn (the John Wayne role) to lead her into the hostile territory to find the man. A Texas Ranger joins them, and together (reluctantly, it must be said–the men don’t want a little girl along) they encounter the bad men.

The voice of the book, through the double-effect narration (telling the story through first person, but with the passage of time), really makes it work. Throughout, the character displays primmishness and vulnerability; she’s not as tough as she’s putting on, but she’s tough enough. Additionally, there are a lot of educational asides and a couple suggestions for Bible reading, but it doesn’t get in the way of the action and the girl’s response to it. Well-played.

I need to read more Westerns, but this does represent the second I’ve read this autumn. As our world and country changes, I’d like to hearken back to a time where it wasn’t how it is now or will be in a couple years.

Books mentioned in this review: