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True Grit (1968)

by Charles Portis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,0992022,740 (4.14)1 / 312
Fiction. Western. Mattie Ross, a fourteen-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… (more)
Recently added byTRSchool, private library, jeremucneely, dpeace, DMatty5, CastellumLibrandi, CaraKokinda, MrsReily
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    tootstorm: Another far-out, not-so-traditional western (and, incidentally, one of Thomas Pynchon's driving influences!).
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    tootstorm: Along with Warlock, completes the trifecta of far-out westerns written by misunderstood comic genius. Reed, Hall, Portis: In that order. Give this author the attention he deserves.
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    amelielyle: Each of these enthralling yarns is a coming of age story in which the youthful narrator bravely faces the cruelties and dangers of life in an untamed western wilderness. Each comes to maturity in facing situations far too difficult for their tender ages. Touches of humor lighten the tone of two otherwise serious plotlines.… (more)
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    Anonymous user: Historical novel about a spunky, tomboy heroine struggling to survive the dangers of Civil War torn Missouri Ozarks. Sprinkled with humor.
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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Westerns: True Grit5 unread / 5Sergeirocks, December 2016

» See also 312 mentions

English (198)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (202)
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this story. In particular I loved the language used: the lack of contractions, the forceful, almost pedantic way that Mattie speaks, and all the little tiny details in each character's dialogue that made them seem to come alive.

An excellent book that I will definitely read again. ( )
  beentsy | Aug 12, 2023 |
One of the defining characteristics of American literature, as far as I'm concerned, is characters with bizarre names. What kind of a name is Huckleberry? Holden? Ahab? Atticus Finch? Boo Radley? These are not everyday run of the mill names! I don't mean this facetiously. Americans come with the kind of wack monikers you just don't encounter in the old world, the occasional Colmondley-Featherstonehaugh notwithstanding. It's a consequence of various diasporae, of course, the Englishings and self-actualisations and fantasies of an individual or collective nature. So a book like this can have characters called Columbus Potter, Odus Wharton, Polk Goudy, and Harold and Carroll and Farrell and Darryl Permalee and a cat called General Sterling Price and it feels so goddamn real, as well as exalted to a dully-named Englishman like me. I love it.

True Grit is a breakneck masterpiece but I actually liked the other Portis I've read so far, Norwood even a bit more. I wished this one was longer! And I felt it jumped the shark or came close to doing so with its climactory snakepit scene. But Mattie's voice and the way Portis pitches it between the 14 year-old heroine and her old maid future self doing the narrating is pure literary dopamine. Huck, meet Dorothy. Y'all don't go getting into any trouble, now! Look at this sentence:

The water was not boiling but it had begun to steam a little and I picked up the can with a rag and flung it at him, then took to my feet in frantic flight.

A less brilliant writer would have gone with something like "I picked up the can of hot water and flung it at him..." or even made the water actually boiling, for violent effect. But Portis/Mattie has a curious precision to her and a way of suckerpunching the reader, so we get that downplaying intro, "the water was not boiling". Until "I picked up the can", the sentence is playing out like no more than colour, background, as the conversation between Mattie and her captor (and object of her vengeance) Tom Chaney continues to play out. Then BAM, it hits us just the way it hits Chaney! I've always thought Tom and Jerry came out of the Wild West tradition, and screwball comedy, both artforms celebrating the terrible unpredictability of the frontier, and there's a lot of both in Portis. True Grit has a hell of a lot to say about America, and it's also a good time all the time and the definition of a one-sitting novel.

It's been a long time since I got such a visceral thrill from a sentence as from the last of these three:

I have never been very fond of horses myself although I believe I was accounted a good enough rider in my youth. I never was afraid of animals. I remember once I rode a mean goat through a plum thicket on a dare. ( )
  yarb | Aug 4, 2023 |
While I'm not sure I'd want to actually spend time with Mattie, riding along with her on her adventure was great fun. It's a shame about Blackie, though. ( )
  DDtheV | Jul 31, 2023 |
A charming and enjoyable story which I've come to read after watching both adaptations. The narrator is a likeable lass and her quibbles with various characters often result in some fun dialogue. That being said, much of it comes across as stilted due to a rigid lack of slang, and the prose is nothing special. If you have seen the original film with John Wayne, then I am not sure there is a great deal of added value in reading the book. In fact, I think the film probably improves upon the characters, particularly Mattie's relationship with Cogburn. The novel has more asides with the narrator but I did not think the story was that much better for them. The Coen adaptation is possibly more faithful but I think it is the weaker film for it. ( )
  TheScribblingMan | Jul 29, 2023 |
An okay read in a genre I don't usually read, western. I didn't really get into it, but did enjoy the driving force and determination of the fearless 14 year old female lead. ( )
  gianouts | Jul 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 198 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Portisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Asmussen, DesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tartt, DonnaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother and father
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Western. Mattie Ross, a fourteen-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

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