Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review: True Grit

I should start with admitting that I saw the movie first, but only the new movie, not the original. I've heard very bad things about the original, but I loved the Coen brothers' take. I heard it was very faithful, and that the book was good so I thought I'd give it a shot, although Westerns aren't my usual thing.

And it is extremely faithful. I could hear the actors' voices in my head as I read the dialogue. It is sharp, quippy, well-written, and truly original. It is often funny, pretty violent, and surprisingly touching.

14-year-old Mattie Ross goes to the town of Ft. Smith, Arkansas to settle affairs and see what is to be done in regards to her father's recent murder by the coward Tom Chaney. She hires a Marshal to help her track him down since he's fled into Indian Territory, Rooster Cogburn, a man with true grit. They are accompanied by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, and they discover Chaney has joined up with a train robbery gang. Naturally they encounter thieves, gun fights, and rattlesnakes. This expedition will change Mattie's life forever.

The book is fast-paced, humorous, and doesn't have a wasted word. The characters are three-dimensional and unique. I think every few years I should pick up a Western, as I've been happy with all the Westerns I've read so far. Sure, Arkansas isn't very far West, but at this time, it might as well have been the end of the world. The author evokes a very true time and a place in his details. I can see why this has been made into a movie twice. Not only is there an interesting story with captivating characters, but the book is so rich with details (not that it's at all overwritten - most of the details are captured in just one or two words) that it's practically already a screenplay.

I bought this book at B&N.


Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I loved this book...and was able to get an autographed copy from the author!

Bailey said...

Ooh I've been wanting to read this one for awhile. It's always checked out from my library, though. I'll have to step up my game and reserve it!