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review 2020-04-30 17:41
'True Grit' by Charles Portis -final thoughts.
True Grit - Donna Tartt,Charles Portis

I understand why this book is a classic. I love the directness and simplicity of the narrative, which has Mattie Ross addressing the reader with her account of what happened and what she thinks about that. Mattie Ross' personality and values pulse in every paragraph of her account. I can see her clearly, not what she looks like, for she spends no time on that, but the strength of her will, the certainty of her belief and her courage, which seems to come from a refusal not to do what needs to be done, rather than from any infatuation with heroism or any addiction to revenge. It seems to me that she is the one who has 'true grit'.

 

With no more than a straightforward telling of the tale delivered in a monologue form that shows a strong ear for language and tone, Charles Portis gave me Mattie Ross entire, from indomitable fifteen-year-old (boy, would the term 'teenager' be inappropriate) to indomitable forty-year-old independent woman of means,

 

I'd never read the book before so my expectations of it had been set by the movie versions I've seen. It seems the Coen brothers' 2010 version stayed pretty close to the text. I enjoyed that movie and could recall scenes from it clearly as I listened to Mattie Ross's account. It was certainly a better fit than the 'look - John Wayne can still ride a horse' 1969 version. At sixty-two, Wayne was too old for the part and his presence distracted from the story.

 

One of the things that make me prefer the book over either of the films is that the book keeps Mattie Ross at the centre of everything whereas both movies seemed to me to give way to the cinematic gravitational pull of Rooster Cogburn.

 

'True Grit' is an outstanding achievement as a work of historical fiction. It has what seems like an authentic period feel. The nature of the narrative comes from a different age, one where speech is heavily influenced by the rhythms of the King James Bible and the mode of argumentation demonstrates a vocabulary that since been leached away by usage.

 

There is no nostalgia and no anachronisms and no sense of seeing anything other than the things that would have been seen by the people of the time.

It also pleases me that the 'Indians' haven't been whitewashed from this account or turned into fictions from Wild Bill's show.

 

The stress on negotiation and setting terms and laying claims show how that world could be built or broken by whether or not contracts were respected is very much of the period.

 

I know the book is sometimes felt to have a slow start, but this wasn't my experience. 'True Grit' isn't an adventure story or a thriller, it's a first-person account of a young woman so focused on her goal and so certain of her success that she sees no adventure in her activities but rather an exercise of will that bends the men around her to her needs and objectives. To her, the negotiation on the price of ponies is as important a part of her quest as firing a gun at her father's murderer. 

 

By the end of the book, I felt as though I had been immersed in a mind quite alien to my own but for whom I feel a reluctant empathy. Through her eyes, I' was given a window in a period in American history that has since been graffitied over by self-serving myths and legends.

 

I listened to the audiobook version of the novel which, I was surprised to find, was narrated by Donna Tart. For some reason, I'd always thought of her as an East Coast Brahmin. Then I heard her narrate in what, to my uneducated ears, sounds like a very credible Arkansas accent, so I checked her bio and found that she's originally from Mississippi. I think she did an excellent job. My only complaint is that there's something off about the sound production. I can hear a background hiss during the silences and I can hear every swallow and intake of breath. I know Recorded Books can do better than that.

 

The audiobook version has an essay by Tart at the end which is well worth a listen.

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text 2020-04-27 16:30
Snakes and Ladders, 2020 Edition - TA's Master Tracking Post: DONE!
Sweet Danger - Margery Allingham,Franis Matthews
A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent - Marie Brennan,Kate Reading
The Patient Man - Joy Ellis,Richard Armitage
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters,Stephen Thorne
Scales of Justice - Ngaio Marsh,Philip Franks
True Grit - Charles Portis,Donna Tartt
Indemnity Only - Sara Paretsky,Susan Ericksen
Lost Hills - Lee Goldberg,Nicol Zanzarella
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Anne Fadiman,Suzanne Toren
Broken Ground - Val McDermid,Cathleen McCarron


Tracking courtesy of Charlie and Sunny, as always, of course!

 

 

 SPACES AND DICE ROLLS

 

1. Author is a woman -- Patricia Wentworth: Pilgrim's Rest (finished April 1, 2020)

 

 

2. Genre: mystery

3. Set in the twentieth century

4. Published in 2019

5. Published in 2018

6. Title has a color word in it

7. Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D -- Margery Allingham: Sweet Danger (finished April 2, 2020)

 

 

 

8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H.

9. Author's last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K

10. Author's last name begins with the letters L, M, N or O

11. Author's last name begins with the letters P, Q, R, or S

12. Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z

13. Author is a man

14. Author is dead

15. Genre: romance

16. Genre: fantasy -- Marie Brennan: A Natural History of Dragons (finished April 6, 2020)

 

 

 

17. Genre: horror

18. Set in a school

19. Set in the UK

20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence

21. Set in Europe -- Joy Ellis: The Patient Man (finished April 7, 2020)

 

 

22. Set in Asia

23. Set in Australia/Oceania

24. Set in Africa

25. Snake - go back to 5

26. Part of a series that is more than 5 books long

27. Set during WWI or WWII

28. Written between 1900 and 1999

29. Someone travels by plane

30. Someone travels by train

31. Road trip -- Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones (finished April 8, 2020)

 

 

32. Genre: thriller

33. Set in North America

34. Snake - go back to 1

35. Has been adapted as a movie

36. Set in Central or South America

37. Has won an award

38. Newest release by a favorite author

39. A reread -- Ngaio Marsh: Enter a Murderer (finished April 9, 2020)

 

 

40. Characters involved in the entertainment industry

41. Characters involved in politics

42. Characters involved in sports/sports industry

43. Characters involved in the law

44. Characters involved in cooking/baking

43. Characters involved in medicine

44. Characters involved in science/technology

45. A book that has been on your tbr for more than one year

46. A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years

47. Snake - go back to 19

48. A book you acquired in February, 2019.

49. Recommended by a friend -- Ngaio Marsh: A Man Lay Dead, plus Death on the Air and Other Stories (both books finished April 10, 2020)

(Rereading the first Roderick Alleyn mystery in honor of the friend who introduced me to them many years ago. -- ETA: Tagged on Marsh's short stories when I noticed that the audio of A Man Lay Dead runs just short of 5 hours 30 minutes.)

 

 

 

50. Has a domestic animal on the cover

51. Has a wild animal on the cover

52. Has a tree or flower on the cover

53. Has something that can be used as a weapon on the cover -- Ngaio Marsh: Scales of Justice (finished April 11, 2020)

(I used the present weekend buddy read for this one, as my print edition has fishing tackle on its cover -- hook, line and all.)

 

 

 

54. Is more than 400 pages long

55. Is more than 500 pages long

56. Was published more than 100 years ago

57. Was published more than 50 years ago

58. Was published more than 25 years ago

59. Was published more than 10 years ago

60. Was published last year

61. Cover is more than 50% red -- Anne Perry: Defend and Betray (finished April 16, 2020)

(Go figure, I could have used the audio version of Scales of Justice fo rthis one as well ...)

 

 

62. Cover is more than 50% green

63. Cover is more than 50% blue

64. Cover is more than 50% yellow

65. Snake - go back to 52

66. Part of a series that is more than 10 books long -- Ngaio Marsh: When in Rome (finished April 17, 2020)

(Nothing like Alleyn in Italy as a palate cleanser after the train wreck that Perry's book turned out ot be.)

 

 

67. Set in a city with a population of greater than 5 million people (link)

68. Something related to weddings on the cover

69. Something related to travel on the cover

70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover

71. Involves the beach/ocean/lake 

72. Involves the mountains/forests -- Charles Portis: True Grit (finished April 18, 2020)

(I checked -- their trip takes them through the mountains, at least part of the way.)

 

 

73. Categorized as YA

74. Categorized as Middle Grade

75. Set in a fantasy world

76. Set in a world with magic

77. Has a "food" word in the title

78. Set in a small town (fictional or real)

79. Main character is a woman -- Sara Paretsky: Indemnity Only (finished April 21, 2020)

(Somehow I never got around to the first V.I.  Warshawski novel.  Now just may be the moment to make up for that.)

 

 

80. Main character is a man

81. Ghost story

82. Genre: urban fantasy

83. Genre: cozy mystery

84. Genre: police procedural -- Lee Goldberg: Lost Hills (finished April 22, 2020)

 

 

85. Written by an author who has published more than 10 books

86. Author's debut book

87. Snake - go back to 57

88. Comic/graphic novel

89. Published between 2000 and 2017

90. A new-to-you author

91. Snake - go back to 61

92. Reread of a childhood favorite

93. Author's first/last initial same as yours (real or BL handle)

94. Non-fiction

95. Memoir -- Anne Fadiman: Confessions of a Common Reader (finished April 22, 2020)

and Rafik Schami: Murmeln meiner Kindheit (My Childhood's Marbles) (finished April 23, 2020) (since Fadiman's book falls just a bit short of the game's minimum requirements).

 

 

96. From your favorite genre

97. Title starts with any of the letters in SNAKE

98. Title starts with any of the letters in LADDERS

99. Snake - go back to 69

100. Let BL pick it for you: post 4 choices and read the one that gets the most votes!

Poll posted separately -- BL community pick:

Val McDermid: Broken Ground (finished April 27, 2020).

 

 

RULES OF THE GAME:

 Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

 

2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org.  This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.

 

All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 

 

You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.

 

ADDITIONS TO THE RULES

When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.

 

With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.

 

For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.

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text 2020-04-19 15:16
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.- that was splendid
True Grit - Donna Tartt,Charles Portis

I think this book is a classic. It gives me Mattie Ross entire, from indomitable fifteen-year-old (boy, would the term 'teenager' be inappropriate) to indomitable forty-year-old independent woman of means, delivered in a monologue form that shows a strong ear for language and tone. 

 

I understand Lillelara's comment about the pace of the story lagging at points but I am not dismayed by this. 'True Grit' isn't an adventure story or a thriller, it's a first person account of a young woman so focused on her goal and so certain of her success that she sees no adventure in her activities but rather an exercise of will that bends the men around her to her needs and objectives. To her, the negotiation on the price of ponies is as important a part of her quest as firing a gun at her father's murderer. 

 

I feel like I have been immersed in a mind quite alien to my own but for whom I feel a reluctant empathy. Through her eyes, I've been given a window in a period in American history that has since been graffittied over by self-serving myths and legends.

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text 2020-04-19 11:02
Reading progress update: I've read 71%.
True Grit - Donna Tartt,Charles Portis

One of the things I'm most impressed by is the period feel of this book. The nature of the narrative comes from a different age, one where speech is heavily influenced by the rhythms of the King James Bible and the mode of argumentation demonstrates a vocabulary that since been leached away by usage.

 

There is no nostalgia and no anachronisms and no sense of seeing anything other than the things that would have been seen by the people of the time.

 

The stress on negotiation and setting terms and laying claims show how that world could be built or broken by whether or not contracts were respected.

 

It also pleases me that the 'Indians' haven't been whitewashed from this account or turned into fictions from Wild Bill's show.

 

 

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text 2020-04-19 07:28
Reading progress update: I've read 235 out of 235 pages.
True Grit - Donna Tartt,Charles Portis

I remembered liking the main character Mattie a whole lot when I read this book the first time a couple of years ago. And this hasn´t changed one bit. She is such a unique and memorable character.

 

This time around, though, I had some issues with the pacing of the story. It takes forever until they are actually on their way.

 

So it´s still a good book with a great main character, but its not quite as good as I remember it to be. 

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