True Grit by Charles Portis
Published by Simon and Schuster
3 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Bryce
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross's father is shot and she heads out to find the culprit. It's as direct and upfront as that and the writing is the same. For example (demonstrating both the straightforward prose and directness of the main protagonis, Mattie Ross):
"You can't stay in this city by yourself."
I said, "It will be all right. Mama knows I can take care of myself. Tell her I will be stopping at the Monarch boardinghouse. If there is no room there I will leave word with the sheriff where I am."
He said, "I reckon I will stay too."
I said, "No, I want you to go with Papa. When you get home tell Mr. Myers I said to put him in a better coffin."
"Your mama will not like this," said he.
True Grit is told from the point of view of a very abrupt and bold young lady, but there's not a lot to it other than a description of events from one place to the next. She decides something and she does it no matter how many times everyone else tries to dissuade her from that path. She gets a U.S. Marshall to help and then events happen.
Good, but definitely didn't live up to the hype. I honestly don't even understand it other than that it's a person who does what it takes no matter what, but she doesn't even seem all that passionate about it. It's just something she has to do. I think the prose style hurt that part of the story as well. There are some entertaining scenes but for the most part I thought the style of the writing, while true to the character it was portraying, kept it from being more.
For me, this could have been a much better book had he made her an English teacher or novelist (like Gordie in Stephen King's The Body which I just read) later in life when she "wrote this." Then she could actually have the writing chops to make this a well-written story instead of a play-by-play of events. As it stands, it kept feeling like something I could have written in high school and that left me unimpressed with what is considered a classic. I understand it as it relates to the themes of revenge, but not in terms of the writing.
Also posted at Goodreads.com.
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