True Grit by Charles Portis fulfills the
category “A Western”
for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. The novel takes place in 1878 in
Western Arkansas and the Indian Territories to the west (eventually, Oklahoma).
Mattie Ross plots to avenge her pa, killed by a farmhand
at Fort Smith. How’s
that for an elevator pitch (short version of the storyline)? A
fourteen-year-old girl goes to collect her father’s body and takes the town in
hand—hiring guns to go after the killer. The girl is a force of nature. She is straightforward,
hard-lined, and honestly, the title is about her. In the course of events, she
secures her father’s things, gets cash for his horses, and hires a marshal for
the manhunt. Then, with her daddy’s gun, she marches into Indian Territory to
hunt down the guilty party. What fourteen-year-old does that? Mattie Ross.
I both loved and hated this book. I should have adored
a story of a young girl fighting her way toward a goal, not letting her gender
or other people’s
opinions stop her. Mattie was an amazing kid, but never really a child. She was
more of an adult than many characters. She knew what she wanted and went and
got it. The childish part was her not knowing that most of what she wanted was
impossible. But it never stopped her from getting the money and the help she
needed to do an impossible task.
with Mattie as the narrator, we missed most of the emotion of the piece. We had
only the fire of her desire to finish the task. There was no love, no hate, a
little disgust, but nothing deep. That’s who the character was, and I can
let the book sit for a while because I didn’t want to trash another classic. I
can see why this tale is embraced as a true American tale. And if anyone tells
you the title is about the man Mattie wanted to help her, kick them in the shins.
Mattie is one of the few characters in the story with true grit. Anyway, I
listened to it as I do many books. Westerns aren’t my favorite genre. And this
one was as dry as the desert. But again, that was our narrator. I digress.
I even listened to the audio reader’s essay at the end, telling
how much she loves the story, how generations of women in her family love the
book. And I was like, why? It’s okay, but…
didn’t get it. I still don’t.
book is good for learning something about the Old West, having a strong female
hero, and… I don’t know. It was kind of boring and dry. Plus, the audio reader
kept pausing and smacking her lips. Seriously, she smacked her lips! Who lets a
recording of a classic novel go out into the word with that kind of sound added
to the story? I thought it was from the Arkansas accent, but the essay was sans
lip-smacking. Anyway, the problem with the reader doesn’t resolve my bland
response to this story. It was okay. If you have to read a western, then it’s a
good pick. But will I have generations of my family picking up this book and
gifting it to everyone? No. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, though—that’s
I give True
Grit by Charles Portis Three and a half Spunky Ponies, one named Blackie (I
have no idea how you get half a pony. Don’t ask.)