Monday, August 13, 2012

Listened: "True Grit" by Charles Portis

Listened: True Grit by Charles Portis, 1968 (unsure of audio date), downloaded from One Click digital when I had a trial account.  Narrated by Donna Tartt who has a nice essay afterwards.

True Grit came back in demand after the second movie came a couple years ago.  The library's copy went out on hold several times.  I had little interest in the book but Bill Crider and other, lesser lights, wrote how good the book is.  I checked it out to check it out.  I think a lot of the humor passed me by.  Maybe the humor is generational to the '60s and early '70s.  I did laugh out loud several times.

The story is well known. Mattie Ross hires Rooster Cogburn to hunt down and either catch or kill the man who murdered Mattie's father.  I don't recall much of the Wayne movie and have not yet watched the Coen movie.

Mattie's father is murdered by their farmhand while they are both in Fort Smith for business.  Mattie's dad was trying to dissuade Tom Chaney from angrily returning to a card game when Chaney shot him in the street.  Mattie's mother is ill so Mattie heads to Fort Smith to recover the body.  Hearing that Chaney has fled into Indian Territory, and that the Arkansas police will not pursue him into that Federal territory, Mattie asks who the best Federal Marshall is.  Mattie promises Marshall Rooster Cogburn money to go after Chaney.

Meanwhile, Texas Ranger LaBouef arrives in town to arrest Chaney for the murder of a Texas Senator and return him to TX for a different monetary reward.  Chaney and Cogburn reluctantly team up, they do not like one another, and Mattie follows them.  Cogburn reluctantly lets Mattie come along.

Mattie and Co. find out who Chaney is traveling with.  Cogburn leads them to a possible hideout.  The two crooks there both die - one kills the other for talking and then Cogburn/Chaney kill the first.  Chaney's group shows up and another crook is killed.  Mattie and Co. are lead by a drunken Cogburn to the groups' known hideout.

Mattie goes for water the next morning and sees Chaney at a creek.  Mattie shoots Chaney with her father's old cap-and-ball but the next shots misfire and she is captured and left with Chaney.  Mattie rescued by LaBoeuf.  LaBouef waylaid.  Mattie falls into snake pit.  Mattie rescued by Cogburn.  Mattie returns home but her arm is amputated after snake bite infection.

1.  The timeline is fairly short and simple.  Mattie goes to Fort Smith and leaves after a couple days.  The chase through Oklahoma only takes 2-3 days and involves a lot of riding.
2.  Mattie is certainly a judgmental person.  Her asides on the church and religion come out of nowhere.  She readily gives her opinions on the behavior and manners of others.  Sometimes those opinions are to that person and sometimes to the reader.
3.  The epilogue portion has Mattie telling of what happens to Cogburn afterwards and she tells of going to Memphis (was it Memphis of Nashville?) to catch a traveling Western show that advertises Cogburn tells a lot about her.  She runs a bank, is unmarried, is unliked by most people.  But, she travels a ways to see the man again.  Mattie writes that her brother occasionally teases her about Cogburn, that Mattie carried a torch for the fat, drunken, violent man.
4.   Mattie is precocious and argumentative.  Mattie is already a hard nosed businesswoman.  Mattie's negotiations with the Fort Smith, AR horse dealer are something to hear.  She rarely feels like a girl.  The only thing of notice to me is her love for her new horse, Little Blackie.  Mattie is not prone to swooning and love.  Nor dresses, dolls, gossip, or other leisure things.
5.  Tartt writes how her whole family read and loved the book.  Tartt was only 12 when she read it.  Her narrowly read grandmother loved it.  Her mother loved it.  Tartt regularly reads the book.
EDIT: 6.  I forgot.  Cogburn is a trigger happy dirt bag.  He is quick to shoot on the outlaws but it takes one to know one.  Cogburn rode with Quantrill and other Civil War scumbags - don't argue with me that Quantrill was a good guy.  Cogburn robbed a Union paymaster. Cogburn robbed a bank.  Cogburn was a drunken husband and lousy father.  Cogburn only got the Marshall job because a Confederate pal was also a Marshall.  Shortly after Mattie's escapade he is forced to resign after another questionable shooting.

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