True Grit

by Charles Portis

Paperback, 1968

Call number




Simon & Schuster (1968), Edition: First Edition


In the 1870s, young Mattie Ross learns that her beloved father was gunned down by his former handyman. But even though this gutsy 14-year-old is seeking vengeance, she is smart enough to figure out she can't go alone after a desperado who's holed up in Indian territory. With some fast-talking, she convinces mean, one-eyed US Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn into going after the despicable outlaw with her.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bragan
When fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross' father is murdered, she sets out to revenge herself on the killer, hiring a US Marshal with a mean reputation to track him down and then simply and steadfastly refusing to be left behind on the hunt. It's a very simple story, one that goes exactly where it tells you at the outset it's going to go. But it's a surprisingly compelling one. Largely that's due to the main character; the stolid, determined, tough and serious-minded Mattie is a pretty memorable gal. But a lot of it also has to do with the voice it's written in. First person narration is something of a literary conceit, really, one that usually requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief, no matter how unconscious and effortless that might be. Seldom is it truly quite believable that a novel would in fact be told by its main character exactly the way it is told, especially when the character is not herself a professional writer. Not this one, though. Everything about it, from the slightly stilted language to Mattie's not infrequent digressions into political or religious opinions, feels absolutely authentic, as though it could indeed have been written years later by a real person who really lived these experiences. Nothing about it feels the least bit artful or artificial, and yet, as a novel, it reads absolutely smoothly. It's a darned impressive effect.… (more)
LibraryThing member beserene
So, I don't usually read Westerns. That is important, I suppose, because it means that -- though I am generally familiar with the conventions of the genre, as most Americans are -- I came to this book with a fresh eye. The catch, however, is that I had watched and loved the recent Coen brothers film "True Grit" (2010) before I read the novel on which it was based, so that unjaded eye of mine was also eager to see some of the film's greatness in the book. And see it I did; from the flat, formal, yet richly comic narration to the subverted yet iconic characterizations to the elegaic tone of the ending, the novel absolutely lived up to my very high expectations.

I have, in fact, a great desire to read it again right now.

That desire might, however, have more to do with my state of mind than the quality of the novel. Take it with a (small) grain of salt. I am so in love with this narrative that I have watched the movie more than a dozen times in the past couple of weeks. I have it on whilst I am doing dishes, cooking dinner, etc. Thus, given how enamored I am of the film, I cannot guarantee that my love of the book will be a repeatable experiment for others.

But that should not stop you from reading it. The novel is very swift and, though comic, quite earnest. I enjoyed that it was not sly or ironic -- it captures (as does the recent film), without added mockery, the United States in a transitional moment, that movement from the frontier country to modern America. As with any text that looks at change, it casts an eye most strongly on the ridiculous, highlighting those aspects of past (and, the reader might infer, present) that linger longest because they are most tenacious or most beloved, even as they are stripped of the context that at one time gave them solemnity.

In many ways, this book, published in 1968, is more of a grace note than an elegy -- it does not long for simpler times or gloss the surface of its historical period -- rather, it captures the inherent caricature of reality. Its title accurately reflects the grit (and I mean that both in the sense of toughness and in the sense of plain old dirt) of its descriptions. This is not old Hollywood's west -- this is not the clean and careful scenery within which John Wayne, in 1969, reassured audiences that he could still play a cowboy -- this is not a place in which people fall in love... but it is a place that the reader will fall in love with.

Donna Tartt's enthusiastic and informative afterword reveals that, before John Wayne became the definitive Rooster Cogburn, Portis' novel was considered an American classic and was even featured on high school required reading lists. I look forward to the day when the novel reclaims that standing -- it was, and is, well deserved.
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LibraryThing member uvula_fr_b4
Charles Portis's True Grit (1968) is the basis for the eponymous movies of 1969 (directed by Henry Hathaway and starring John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn) and 2010 (directed by the Coen brothers and starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster). I'd stumbled across Portis's name while flipping through an issue of either Esquire or GQ in 2009: he was mentioned in a short, one- or two-paragraph item as "a writer's writer," and I'd been interested enough to keep my eyes peeled. What with the movie tie-in republication -- in trade paperback, with an afterword by Donna Tartt, no less -- of True Grit, and the republication of the rest of Portis's novels (The Dog of the South, Gringos, Norwood and Masters of Atlantis) by the same publisher (The Overlook Press, which first came to my attention as the publishers of books of movie criticism), I was suddenly able to satisfy my curiosity.

While I know just enough about writing to appreciate how much craft the deceptively straightforward True Grit conceals, I can't say that I was sent over the moon by it. Yeah, yeah, I get it -- the first person narrator Mattie Ross who, being just 14 in the events that she relates, is both more steely and capable than most people believe and more naïve and vulnerable than she believes; the inverted commas over any word or phrase that she prudishly deems "slangy" underscore her fustiness and her comic function; the Twainian notes sounded in describing the farcical and brutal chicanery of the law enforcement and judiciary systems of the 1870s nearly sugar-coat a grim reality; the casually tossed-off references to biblical passages that are, as Stanley Fish pointed out in his "Opinionator" blog for the New York Times on Monday, 27 December, central to a full understanding of the religious underpinnings of the novel (though these underpinnings aren't in the "Jesus-as-good-buddy" mode currently popular in the U.S.) -- all these things point to a deep work of fiction that can be fruitfully plumbed, taught, and finally drained into dessication by swarms of literature professors and critics. (I would also submit that Mattie Ross is an unreliable narrator, but I'm sure that there are at least a few of True Grit's acolytes out there who would shout me down.)

But, while I have more than a little intellectual sympathy for the bleakness and the mordant humor of Portis's creation, it just didn't grab me. I might well re-read it at a future date in the hopes of falling in love, but I'll probably find that I'll have to settle for respecting it, not loving it. I'll also likely try at least one more Portis book, but I'll likely settle for reading a library copy, not buying one.
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LibraryThing member msf59
“With its excitement, its aliveness, its comic sympathy and originality, True Grit swoops the reader up and gallops him off into a classic American landscape, freshly and brilliantly perceived.” That is straight from the inside of the original dust-jacket and I had to include it! Funny, I grew up on a steady diet of westerns, but somehow overlooked this gem. I’m also a fan of the ‘69 film version, starring John Wayne, which actually remains quite faithful to the book. It’s a simple tale, narrated by Mattie Ross, a fourteen year old girl, who hires Rooster Cogburn, a drunken, crotchety US Marshall, to find the man who killed her father. She’s a wonderful character. Smart, bold and determined. These two tough personalities, clash at the start, but soon a strong relationship begins to develop, as they pursue some very bad men. A spanking good read!
Note: the Coen brothers have remade the film, being released at Christmas, with Jeff Bridges, (one of my favorite actors) playing Rooster! Sounds great!
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LibraryThing member snat
I recently reread this book for a book club meeting and was just as struck by Portis' prose as I was the first time I read it. The movie version (which I watched repeatedly as a teenager) is surprisingly faithful to the book's narrative. The story of the headstrong (sometimes obnoxiously so) Mattie's quest to kill the coward Tom Chaney is every bit as entertaining to me now as it was then. Of course, the real star of the book is the brutish and brash Rooster Cogburn, the U. S. Marshal Mattie hires to help her track down Chaney, who shot her father in cold blood. In the contrast between Mattie and Rooster is the contrast between the rapidly disappearing uncivilized frontier and the strong, hardbitten men and women it produced and the introduction of societal mores and conveniences. Despite this contrast, there is a stubborness in Mattie and Rooster that is recognized and respected by each. Portis' use of language is stripped of "fluff" and moves the story along brusquely, but not at the sacrifice of character or plot development. The dialogue is often unexpectedly hilarious and, as an Arkansan, it's also refreshing to read about an Arkansas that I recognize--that is not the Arkansas that belongs to the stereotyped backwoods redneck. The historical details are accurate (including Fort Smith's famous "hanging judge," Judge Parker) and paint a vivid portrait of frontier life in Arkansas.… (more)
LibraryThing member sarah-e
I should have read this as a kid. Mattie is everything a fourteen year old should be - or should want to be - funny, smart, dedicated, determined, adventurous. The story is really fun to read, and so funny at times - I enjoyed the dialogue in the book especially. There were some points at which the plot dragged a little, but the excitement of the story more than made up for it.… (more)
LibraryThing member clfisha
Excellent American classic

Told in memoir format, this is a tale of 14 yr old Mattie Ross who sets out from Arkansas in the 1870s to avenge the death of her father. Its short, amusing, harsh and terribly endearing. It's very easy to see why this is a much loved (and much filmed) book.

Mattie's character is simply wonderful, I can't better the description of "harsh innocence and indestructible vitality" and
set against the wild west of bounty hunters, hanging judges and criminal gangs she shines like pure gold. Draped in an adults fore-knowledge adds added poignancy to what could be just a coming or age adventure we can root for and sympathise for at all ages, it also gives the story a deeply satisfying ending. Her co-stars, one eyed, drunk maverick "Rooster" Cogburn and pretty boy LaBoeuf, are perfectly drawn opposites; sniping and rubbing up against each other whilst she runs rings around them.

Character driven though it is, plot is tightly packed and the action sequences superb (if you can ever get the dramatic climax out of head I will be surprised). It’s a book that stays with and makes smile in a sad/happy way. Highly recommended, forget the films just grab the book.
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LibraryThing member MillieHennessy
I will admit I saw the recent movie, before I read the book, but I find that I really enjoyed both. This story follows fourteen-year-old Mattie as she hunts down her father's killer with the help of marshals Cogburn and LaBoeuf. Every character in the book has a strong personality, and I was pleased to find that the movie was fairly faithful to the book (more so than most anyways). I really loved Mattie's voice as the narrator. Her very direct way of speaking and explaining things was unique and amusing. As with the movie, I hadn't expected to find humor in the book, but Cogburn has some good lines.… (more)
LibraryThing member CarltonC
The story of Mattie's search for vengeange against her father's killer, Tom Chaney, set in the years after the American Civil War, is powerful in its simplicity and very skillfully told. Mattie, a fourteen year old girl made older than her years by circumstance, is the narrator, but she tells her story from the distance of her old age.
Mattie's voice is distinctive and she describes the other characters forcefully, but well, especially LaBeouf and Rooster Cogburn, the Texas Ranger and Indian Territory Marshall who help her track Chaney, who has fallen in with a band of train robbers who are hiding in the Indian Territories.
An easy and enjoyable read, both for the matter of fact treatment of its subject matter (an unsentimental portrayal of the West before it was civilised) and the fantastic narrator's voice. Portis' portrayal of Mattie is exceptional.
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LibraryThing member joeltallman
The narrator's voice grabs you on page one, and is sustained through the course of the book. The movie overshadowed this book, which should be an American classic.
LibraryThing member Schmerguls
This is a novel told in the first person by Mattie Ross, age 14, who decides she must "get" the guy who killed her father. She hires a Federal marshal, Rooster, to help her get the culprit. The dialogue is stunning and often very funny. I laughed aloud often at the oral and interior dialogue which the narrator sets out. Kind of like Shane, which I read 28 Jan 2002, but a lot funnier. It is only 215 pages and is a joy to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member quzy
What 14-year-old Mattie Ross doesn't have in age and experience she makes up for double in spunk! This is what will have you loving True Grit by Charles Portis! When Mattie looks for a man with no nonsense determination, and someone who can take care of business without a lot of fuss- someone with True Grit, she finds Rooster Cogburn. And we find a great story of the American West. It's adventure, it's revenge, it's redemption. It's the landscape of the wild west. It's friendship, it's survival, it's ultimately knowing what's right and wrong. True Grit is made up of all the elements of a true classic, with a remarkable cast of unforgettable characters on a quest to fulfill their destinies, and we are fortunate to be able to go along for the ride. (On horseback no less!)

True Grit is the story of Mattie Ross avenging her fathers senseless murder by a low-life drifter, Tom Chaney, that worked for him. The story is told by Mattie Ross, many years later, in a matter of fact tone that is one of her endearing qualities...

"People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day."

It becomes clear from the start of the story that Mattie is mature way beyond her years as she boards a train with Yarnell Pointdexter, a black man who Mattie's Papa arranged to look in on his family while he was traveling with Chaney to buy some ponies some "seventy miles as the bird flies" in Fort Smith. She boards that train to claim the body of her father, but as circumstances present themselves, what turned out to be a simple plan to bring her father home became an adventure through Indian territory to avenge her father's murder by hunting down the man who killed him and bring him to justice... the same kind of justice her father received.

What she finds when she gets to Fort Smith is a sheriff who was apathetic at best. The sheriff assumed Tom Chaney the murderer (actually the sheriff didn't even have Chaney's name right) had fled to the Indian Territories, which local authorities have no authority over, but the sheriff had asked for a fugitive warranty on Tom Chaney with the federal authorities, which are the U.S. Marshalls. Were the U.S. Marshalls on the trail yet? Well Mattie Ross was going to take care of all that herself...
"Who is the best marshal they have?"
The sheriff thought on it for a minute. He said, "I would have to weigh that proposition. There is near about two hundred of them. I reckon William Waters is the best tracker. He is a helf-breed Comanche and it is something to see, watching him cut for a sign. The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don't enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork. Now L.T. Quinn, he brings his prisoners in alive. He may let one get by now and then but he believes even the worst of men is entitled to a fair shake. Also the court does not pay any fees for dead men. Quinn is a good peace officer and a lay preacher to boot. He will not plant evidence or abuse a prisoner. He is straight as a string. Yes, I will say Quinn is about the best they have."
I said, "Where can I find this Rooster?"
And so the adventure begins. True Grit has been compared to Huckleberry Finn, but there is nothing light-hearted about Mattie Ross or Rooster Cogburn. That's not to say there isn't humor to be found throughout the story, it's just that the beauty of Charles Portis' writing is his ability to let the humor shine through without distracting you from the story. And where that story brings you is across the American landscape shortly after the Civil War. There is this under current of the after effects of a war where neighbor fought neighbor, which helps shape the landscape of men that existed back then. Portis also paints a wonderful picture of the desolation and isolation the wild west had to offer, which is often times romanticized in literature. I could feel the cold through my coat, and the sting of the snow against my face.

If you want to open the pages to memorable characters, great writing, and a story that will have you wanting more, get yourself a copy of True Grit by Charles Portis to read. I can turn to any page in that book now and enjoy just reading a part of it, and it will be one of those books I can see myself rereading some point in time.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The first line grabbed me, and is a fair summation of the voice and plot:

People do not give credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day.

So begins the account of Mattie Ross, a "cranky old maid" of fifty-five when she tells of how as a young girl she rode with US Marshall Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf in 1878 Oklahoma. A good first person story depends on a strong voice, and Mattie's is hilarious, with attitude to burn. She's more than a bit scary, and when at one point LaBoeuf takes a switch to her, I found it hard to blame him. Practical, smart, gutsy, humorless herself and spouting Biblical verses left and right, she's absolutely relentless. Her voice is a bit reminiscent of Harper Lee's Scout or Mark Twain's Huck, but I think the afterward is right in saying she's more akin to Captain Ahab of Moby Dick in her single-mindedness. Meaning to hire a federal marshall to track down her father's killer, she asks someone who is the best marshall--she's given three names, but picks Cogburn because he's described as the "meanest."

And, of course, Rooster Cogburn is an indelible character as well. I haven't seen the recent film with Jeff Bridges, but the portrayal of him by John Wayne certainly left an impression. He's actually too old for Cogburn, who's only thirty-three here, but I think Wayne's depiction is in the right spirit. There are several differences from the film, and I thought the book a great read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Ceolach
A thoroughly enjoyable read! The dialogue was used mostly word-for-word in the original movie starring John Wayne and Kim Darby. The back story and additional comments by "Maddie" in the book give even more depth to the story. Portis injects a great deal of humour into what could have been a very dry story, giving it a warmth and depth that few novels have attained. His use of a distinctly southern vernacular truly brings these characters to life. One can easily imagine sitting on the front porch, sipping lemonade, and listening to Maddie re-tell her story.… (more)
LibraryThing member othersam
Recently reissued by Bloomsbury in the UK, this Western was turned into one of John Wayne's best-loved films. The book's even better! When her father is brutally murdered, Mattie Ross sets out to bring the killer to justice. Mattie is a wonderful character, spiky and brave and incredibly strong-willed - but she's only fourteen. She can't do this on her own. She's going to have to convince the irascible Rooster Coburn to help her! Thrilling, funny and heartfelt by turns, this is a delightful book.… (more)
LibraryThing member gaskella
This was our Book Group choice for reading in March. It’s fair to say that while no-one hated it, not everybody loved it like I did. One thing that we were all agreed on though, was that Mattie Ross was a remarkable young heroine, however irritating she could be.

If you are only familiar with the 1969 film starring John Wayne as Marshall Reuben Cogburn, you’ll find that the film, although great fun, is quite different to the book. The original movie is more of a star vehicle for Wayne, who indeed won an Oscar for his role in 1970. The book, however, is narrated entirely by Mattie, who looks back on the adventure she had when she was fourteen on her quest to find Tom Chaney, her father’s murderer. This enabled me to disassociate my reading from the original movie somewhat. I’ve yet to see the Coen brothers’ recent movie, but I’m told it’s very close to the book and rather good – might have to wait for the DVD now though …
We had a lot of discussion about Mattie. Was she really as determined and clever at fourteen, or was she remembering through the veil of age? She certainly stepped up to take on the patriarchal role of her family. We all loved the scene where she bargains with Stonehill, the auctioneer and stock dealer, over her father’s horses. She has such tenacity, backed up with the threat of a writ from lawyer Daggett, that he gives in to the slip of a girl that has wit and brains way beyond normal girls her age. She knows her own mind, when she asks the Sheriff about which Marshall she should hire, she makes an instant decision. I quote ...

“Who is the best marshall they have?”
The Sheriff thought on it for a minute. He said, “I would have to weigh that proposition. There is near about two hundred of them. I reckon William Walters is the best tracker. He is a half-breed Commanche an it is something to see, watching him cut for sign. The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double-tought, and fear don’t enter his thinking. He loves to pull a cork. Now L.T.Quinn, he brings his prisoners in alive. He may let one get by now and then, but he believes that even the worst of men is entitled to a fair shake. Also the court does not pay any fees for dead men. Quinn is a good peace officer and a lay preacher to boot. He will not plant evidence or abuse a prisoner. He is as straight as a string. Yes I will say Quinn is about the best they have.”
I said, “Where can I find this Rooster?”

Arguably, it is Mattie herself that has the most true grit, as she wears down one man after another. They don’t stand a chance against her, but she couldn’t do it without Rooster’s help though.

The first half of the book is full of wonderful exchanges, between Mattie and Stonehill, Mattie and LaBoeuf (also on the trail of Chaney), Mattie and Cogburn – the dialogue is absolutely sparkling. Once they’re out on the trail, things do drag slightly; there’s too much about Rooster’s ‘biscuits’ and not enough scenery, (something that another classic western story, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey has in abundance for instance).

Set as it is in the late 1800s, our group felt it had an authentic feel, the casual racism, the hanging Mattie steels her self to see at the beginning, the frontier town and pioneer spirit, we were amazed to find it was only written in 1968. Like Donna Tartt, in the introduction to this edition, we also did a compare and contrast with Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, (my review here). Whereas Dorothy is a homemaker in training, Mattie is forging a path away from rather than back home.

Over the past months, I’ve really fallen for Westerns big-time – Lonesome Dove is on my bedside bookshelf now too. This is another great read, and I heartily recommend it especially if, like me, you haven’t seen the Coen brothers’ film yet.
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LibraryThing member AddictedToMorphemes
True Grit by Charles Portis

Interesting fictional narrative account of 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who leaves her Arkansas home and heads toward Oklahoma and the Choctaw Indian Territory during an 1870s winter, searching for the "cowardly" Tom Chaney, the man who robbed and killed her father in cold blood. It is her intention to capture him and bring him back to Arkansas where justice will be served. To help her accomplish this feat, she hires the meanest federal marshal she can find: the rarely sober Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn, a man with a dark past, a bad reputation, and a lot of enemies.

Mattie is a truly interesting character. She is incredibly hardheaded and expects to get her way no matter the situation. She doesn't give an inch. I think she often succeeds because she is intelligent, tenacious, doesn't care what other people think, has absolutely no self doubts, and is a master at wearing people down. From the get-go after her father's death, she is making decisions for her family, handling the money, telling her grieving mother not to sign anything until she returns home, directing her family attorney on which documents he should draw up, what they should say, etc. She doesn't ask his advice, she just tells him what to do. She even steamrolls Rooster. She is infuriating but her audacity is hilarious. At 14, she already is set in her opinions and isn't afraid to share them--and is able to back them up with scripture. She's a hoot and a brat.

They are joined by a Texas Ranger, Mr. LaBoeuf, who has spent months himself trying to track down Chaney. He and Rooster both grouse about Mattie's presence, but after several attempts to lose her, they inevitably resign themselves to the fact that she'll be with them when they capture their man. In the end, they make a good team and rely on each other to get out of multiple dangerous situations.

After their journey together and an exciting climax to the story, I was surprised by what was, to me, a sad ending to the tale. It stirs up questions and emotions and what ifs and whys. I think their adventure was just the tip of the iceberg of why this book is considered a classic.
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LibraryThing member VisibleGhost
It's been awhile since I gushed. I am hereby gushing. This book has generated two movie versions so it needs little introduction. the subject matter almost doesn't matter because it's such a delight to read. And it can be read by nearly all age groups, for it can be enjoyed on many levels. In it resides Mattie Ross, one of the great authentic American voices in literature. She is a pious little thing- when offered some whiskey when she is ailing, she replies, " I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains". There is a low-keyed understated humor rippling throughout the entire book. Along with dialogue that is smooth and of the times (1870s). Most Americans know Huck and Tom. They should also get to know Mattie.… (more)
LibraryThing member jtck121166
Like Donna Tartt, I cannot recommend this novel enough. It is the story of Mattie Ross, age 14, and her mission for justice, as told by that lady many years later. Portis's impersonation is amazing. It is a thrilling man hunt and character study, and, I assume, a romantic revision of the virtues of the men of the Wild West - while we over here had Sherlock Holmes wrangling with Jack the Ripper et al. Lucky Ned, The Original Greaser Bob and Tom Chaney will live forever, not to mention Rooster Cogburn, La Boeuf and Mattie herself. By the end of the novel, no reader can be left in doubt which character above all truly possesses True Grit.… (more)
LibraryThing member AHS-Wolfy
This book has spawned two movies (both pretty good, imo) with the latest being a particularly faithful adaptation. Unfortunately, the John Wayne version seems to be responsible for the book no longer being regarded required reading for English class (at least according to the introduction in my copy provided by Donna Tartt) right up there with Walt Whitman and Nathaniel Hawthorne. I think the story will be familiar to most so I'll just provide a quick outline here. Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year-old daughter of murdered Frank Ross goes seeking justice/revenge for the crime and employs the most ornery of the US marshals to track down the killer and they set off in company of a Texas Ranger, also on the man's trail, to bring back the man for a hanging.

The tale is told by Mattie when she is a much older woman recalling the events from the adventure of a lifetime and remains true to the vernacular of the time and is filled with surprisingly humorous moments. It is a very quick read with strong characters with a good sense of time and place. Recommended to fans of westerns in general or either of the film versions in particular.… (more)
LibraryThing member Hagelstein
Charles Portis tells just a flat-out good story of how 14 year old Mattie Ross from Dardanelle, Arkansas hires the U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to help her follow his killer to Indian Territory and avenge his death.

Mattie is an amusing, compelling, and believable narrator. The story never flags and is satisfying from beginning to end.… (more)
LibraryThing member uryjm
Sometimes it's difficult to match the Western up with any other kind of genre, but the best Westerns match anything the others might tackle. Love, hate, philosophy, good versus evil, companionship, betrayal and redemption, such themes are usually covered in Chapter One. Then it's on with the shooting. I wouldn't say True Grit was the best Western I've read and, if anything, it was a little slow, but it was a diverting enough yarn for a couple of nights. And, as you might well guess, John Wayne plays Rooster Cogburn in the book just the same as in the film. It really was a part made for the man.… (more)
LibraryThing member MerryMary
I saw the movie before I read the book (for a college kiddie lit class - I'm old!). I wondered at Mattie's charming but stilted speaking style until I read the book and saw that the script was echoing the book character. The story is framed as an old lady remembering the most exciting period of her life - and possibly making everyone sound more noble than they really were.… (more)
LibraryThing member jeffome
fun, fast-moving story.....which i was definitely in the mood for.....nice to not have to think too hard once in awhile when reading for entertainment. Precocious 14-year-old girl adventures in a tough, typically man-only world of untamed Indian territory and certainly holds her own amongst a dangerous group of marshals and outlaws. A quick easy read that makes me anxious to see, not only the old John Wayne movie, but the new version about to be released. There was a slight unbelievability factor that kept me from 5 stars, but that's definitely part of it for me. Enjoy!!… (more)
LibraryThing member HollyinNNV
Today I finished True Grit by Charles Portis. It is the story of a girl who wishes to avenge the murder of her father. Or does she just wish for legal justice? In order accomplish her goal, she engages the services of a U.S. Marshall, as the murderer has fled to Indian Country. True Grit is unique in its young female protagonist who is in no way overwhelmed by the adults around her. She is quite intelligent and witty in a dry fashion. The cover of the book compares her to Huck Finn, however I’d say she has more in common with The Great Brain.
One of the themes that I found quite compelling was the idea of the marshall, Rooster Cogburn, who has a dark side. The reader is never quite certain whether he is truly on the side of the law. But, then the reader does gain a greater appreciation of the limitations of the law in the Wild West. And this brings to mind contemporary examples of controversial cases like Rodney King. At what point do lawmen cross the line, and don’t we in fact appreciate that they often do so?
I am sure that there are other themes within True Grit. However, they are not as readily apparent. I guess I would probably classify this book as a “Beach Book.” It is fun, humorous and entertaining. But, for me it did not have the deep ocean of meaning that I usually prefer in literature.
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