Grit

Exhibit 1.1.25

The Western


A fun book that didn’t take me much longer to read than the new movie took to watch, and it’s easy to see why so many people love it. I certainly did.

(Quick movie comparison: almost identical with a great deal of the dialogue coming directly from the book, one short and unimportant addition, and, oddly, a few minor plot points changed, which both solves some tiny oddities and creates a few new ones).

Like a lot of the books I’ve read recently, it’s heavily voice driven. That’s probably not an accident given that they’re all for classes taught by the same person, but True Grit stands out for the oddity of its retrospective narration through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl on a manhunt for her father’s killer. That conceit alone could and does take this book a long way, but its the absolute appropriateness of her position that makes it compelling. Mattie is by far the smartest and most honorable character and in the running for the toughest. Her competition is all larger-than-life western characters, and so she is both straightman to the genre conventions around her and the wide-eyed gaze that creates them.

It seems a shame to even talk about the book this way. It’s just good. Exciting and funny and unsentimental right up until the stoicism of the genre breaks to show the character Mattie has never learned to hide.

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