I belatedly add to my all time favorite Western authors Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy the name of Charles Portis . Why did it take me so long to get round to True Grit ? Well perhaps it was the John Wayne movie which I saw some years ago . It was a good movie , but not a classic and it did not inspire me to seek out the book . My mistake ! With the publicity and rave reviews surrounding the remake which I have not yet seen I thought I should invest a few pounds and a couple of nights reading . How glad I am that I did .
This is simply the best book I have read this year with possibly the best first paragraph of any book I have ever read . Here Charles Portis sets the scene with clean , direct prose and in a few sentences has the reader hooked and wanting to learn more .
The story is not complicated . A piece of evil trash Tom Chaney kills and robs the 14 year old Mattie's father . She is not happy with the official investigation and wants justice tempered with a dose of vengeance . This self willed, straight spoken and highly intelligent young woman hires a notorious one eyed , overweight , middle aged marshal Rooster Cogburn . A peace officer who deals in rough justice . Does he have enough grit for the task ? They are joined by a good looking, young Texas Ranger LaBoeuf who also wants Chaney for shooting a Texas State senator with a substantial bounty if delivered to Texas dead or alive .The contrast between the two is substantial and adds mightily to the enjoyment .
A strange trio with more discord than harmony set off in the winter's snow to find Chaney .
They meet with more than their fair share of hardship, death and horror along the way . To tell more would risk ruining this classic tale for new readers . The 200 odd pages flew by as their quest and the conclusion unfolded without a dull passage .
True Grit which I can not praise highly enough is a great work of American fiction.