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True Grit by Charles Portis []



After learning that I was a fan of the recent True Grit film the Coen Brothers released in 2010, a co-worker told me that the novel which it was based is an essential read. This recommendation certainly did not disappoint.

The story takes place in the West at the close of the 19th century. It’s narrated by Mattie Ross, who shares her story of a quest to avenge the death of her father when she was just fourteen. She searches for a man with “true grit” who is up to the task of hunting down the killer. Mattie is exceptionally shrewd, fearless and also has an advanced understanding of law and finances. Traveling on her own, she finds and hires a heavy drinking, dirty, eye-patch wearing, cursing, aging bounty hunter named Roger “Rooser” Cogburn. Mattie and Cogburn are later joined by a Texas Ranger by the name of LaBoeuf. The three set out on the trail of murderer Tom Chaney.

True Grit is a real page turner of an adventure novel where stakeouts and gun fights are standard fare. Author Charles Portis also chooses to use a great deal of humor in the storytelling thanks to the wild Cogburn his constant one-upmanship between he and LaBoeuf. There’s also the constant reminder that the young Mattie is more educated and sensible at fourteen than any characters in the story.

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