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True Grit

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  18,047 ratings  ·  2,752 reviews
Mattie Ross, 14, from Dardanelle, Arkansas, narrates half a century later, her trip in the winter of 1870s, to avenge the murder of her father. She convinces one-eyed "Rooster" Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshall, to tag along, while she outdickers and outmaneuvers the hard-bitten types in her path. Basis of John Wayne movie and re-make.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Overlook TP (first published 1968)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Best Westerns
2nd out of 498 books — 636 voters
Forrest Gump by Winston GroomThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerJurassic Park by Michael CrichtonJumanji by Chris Van AllsburgMary Poppins by P.L. Travers
I Only Watched the Movie!
272nd out of 822 books — 4,638 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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sckenda
Feb 20, 2014 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seekers of courage or a quick fun read
Recommended to sckenda by: Coen Brothers
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross hires a grizzled lawman to avenge her father’s blood and then narrates her adventure, fifty-years later, in a deadpan tone. Charles Portis spins his entertaining yarn with freshness and economy (only 224 pages). Most potential readers will have already seen at least one of the two famous movie adaptations; therefore, I will limit my review to quick, bullet-style observations.

Great Title: “True Grit”– a concrete phrase in simplified English that captures ideas—courag...more
David
On the whole, the western genre doesn't inherently appeal to me. I'm not a modern emasculated male yearning wistfully for a time 'when men were men, and dames were etc.' I am relatively content being a gangly Gentile nebbish afraid of his own shadow and estranged from his natural heritage of hunting, foraging, and defecating unashamedly in a shallow hole behind a cactus. Nothing at the heart of my being cries out for a pistol, a lariat, or a fitful night on the prairie punctuated by the wails of...more
karen
this book is wonderful in a lot of ways. the last fifty or so pages alone are intense and scary and my mouth did that thing where it just falls open and makes me look totally doofy but i couldn't care because i was frantically reading to find out what would happen. that is some seriously good writing.

and if i had read this when i was younger and it had been part of my life for a long time, or even if i had read it before winter's bone, it would probably have attained the five stars.

but. narrato...more
Kemper
Treasure of the Rubbermaids: The Dude Vs. The Duke

Sometimes you get very clear signs that you should read or re-read a specific book. Earlier this year, my friend Nancy had read True Grit and recommended it to me. I’d seen the John Wayne movie version a couple of times, and I had a hazy memory that I’d read it at some point. The more I thought about it, I was pretty sure that I’d even owned a very old copy of the book once upon a time.

Months later, I heard that the Coen brothers were doing a new...more
Nancy
Wow, what a great story! Mattie Ross is just 14 years old when she hooks up with Rooster Cogburn, the “meanest” U.S. Marshal, to avenge her father, killed by an outlaw who took advantage of his good nature.

Mattie endures bad weather, illness, grueling hours on horseback, runs into outlaws, and fights off rattlesnakes. She’s tough-talking, honest, loyal, fearless, and I enjoyed every moment with her. I also loved the realistic historical details and well-drawn secondary characters. The gruff and...more
Alejandro
I love this book!

I was barely starting to read it and I was already amazed of how much I was enjoying the reading experience and how much I like the way how it was written.

Definitely I want to read other books by Charles Portis and I hope to do it in the near future.

I wasn't ignorant about the story due I remember that I watched the film with John Wayne at some moment and definitely I watched the recent remake with Jeff Bridges.

I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.

I chose to...more
Michael
A timeless classic of heroism, adventure, and coming of age that I found to be both thrilling and funny. The tale of how a 14-year old girl from Arkansas comes to avenge the murder of her father in 1878 is so pure and elegant, it can’t help but make you believe in the power of righteous determination to right the ills of the world. Told from the perspective of a straitlaced spinster decades later, we get a jaundiced eye on the human condition that puts human weakness and courage in a wonderful p...more
Steve
Simply put, this is one of the most enjoyable novels that I've ever read. It really should be a part of any American Lit. survey, because as a piece of Americana, it easily holds it's own against novels like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Red Badge of Courage, and The Scarlet Letter. This novel contains some of the best dialogue that I have ever read, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the original True Grit movie lifted, verbatim, large chunks of passages from the book. Portis' ear for dia...more
Tfitoby



True Grit by Charles Portis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ranked #3 on my Top 10 Reads in 2012

"True Grit is the best novel to come my way in a very long time...One of those rare sweet delights...one can recommend it to inveterate fiction readers and to those who read only one or two novels a year." - taken from the back of the book.

Blurb: True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, a fourteen-year-old girl from Dardanelle, Arkansas, who sets out in the winter of eighteen seventy-something to avenge the...more
Seak (Bryce L.)
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross's father is shot and she heads out to find the culprit. It's as direct and upfront as that and the writing is the same. For example (demonstrating both the straightforward prose and directness of the main protagonis, Mattie Ross):
Yarnell said, "You can't stay in this city by yourself."

I said, "It will be all right. Mama knows I can take care of myself. Tell her I will be stopping at the Monarch boardinghouse. If there is no room there I will leave word with the sher
...more
Stephanie
Several things drew me to this book. First, the Coen brothers decided to do an adaptation of this book and second, some good friends wrote some fantastic reviews of it.

Because they did such a good job of telling what the book was about, I won't go into much detail, but I will talk a little bit about something I observed about the main character Mattie Ross.

Mattie Ross makes the decision, at the age of fourteen, to avenge her fathers murder. She hires "Rooster" Cogburn, a federal marshal with tru...more
Lou
The story opens with a grand paragraph of affairs..
"PEOPLE DO not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off into the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California good pieces that he
...more
Catie
True Grit is a very simple and efficiently told tale of revenge and adventure. It has no frills or poetry, and the ebook that I read is less than one hundred and fifty pages. What makes this very short work exceptional are the completely original and entertaining characters.

Mattie Ross is one of my all-time favorite narrators. She straightforwardly recounts her adventure as a fourteen year old girl, determined to track down and wreak vengeance on the man who murdered her father. The narration i...more
Steve Lowe
The words True Grit have always conjured up one image for me. A chubby John Wayne taking one last shot at an Oscar by playing... John Wayne taking one last shot at an Oscar. But the novel True Grit is so much more than one gruff, memorable character like Rooster Cogburn. The narrator, Mattie Ross is just as much the hero.

Sure, as a 14-year old, she's a mouthy brat, especially for that time period, but she displays just as much grit as her hired hand, Cogburn. The power of the narrative (or monol...more
Amanda
Dec 15, 2013 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amanda by: Chose to read after watching the movie about a dozen times
Shelves: blog
I recently reread this book for a book club meeting and was just as struck by Portis's prose as I was the first time I read it. The movie version (which I watched repeatedly as a teenager) is surprisingly faithful to the book's narrative.

The story of the headstrong (sometimes obnoxiously so) Mattie's quest to kill the coward Tom Chaney is every bit as entertaining to me now as it was then. Of course, the real star of the book is the brutish and brash Rooster Cogburn, the U. S. Marshal Mattie hi...more
Melanie
'Well, Rooster, I am shot to pieces!'

Yes, I like Westerns. I like the tough, plain speaking characters, the desolate terrain, the blood thirsty fight for territory, outlaws vs lawmen and best of all: the morally ambiguous and fallen hero.

This is my first Charles Portis. Charles McGrath put it this way: 'Mr. Portis evokes an eccentric, absurd world with a completely straight face....instead of shooting off fireworks the books shimmer with a continuous comic glow'. Sounds like my kind of world....more
Chrissie
Nov 05, 2012 Chrissie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Joanne
Shelves: audible, usa, hf, humorous
How often are the book descriptions here at GR really true? Go and read the one for this book. It is true! Every word of it. Nothing is exaggerated, as is so often the case! It gives you all the necessary facts you need to know. As it says, this is a book of humor. This book will make kids laugh, adults laugh and the elderly laugh. This book is for everyone. It is definitely for Americans because it depicts their not so recent past. It is for all those who are not American too, because everyone...more
Evan
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Wonderful, just wonderful. So, maybe this short western novel is not one of the high achievements of the literary canon. On the other hand it does what a good book should do: tells a great story in fully realized settings with authentic physical and historical detail, vivid and flavorful characters along with the bonus of very smart wit. And does so in clear, perfectly penned prose. The chemistry between little Mattie Ross and gruff Marshal Rooster Cogburn is palpable and...more
Henry Avila
The story of Mattie Ross,a spunky 14 year old girl, from Yell County Arkansas.Who seeks justice ,when her father is murdered, by the outlaw Tom Chaney in Fort Smith.Set in the late 1870's ,the kid soon understands ,that nobody wants to risk their life for free,to capture the fugitive .Informed that Rooster Cogburn, is the toughest marshall ,working for the famous hanging Judge Isaac Parker.He shoots first and asks questions later!Cogburn will track down the criminal for a generous fee.Mattie sel...more
Howard
"People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band."

So begins Charles P...more
Jessica
I read an article recently saying that it was a shame that the John Wayne film was so popular, because it completely overshadowed the book, and led to it quickly being forgotten. I agree: this book is a gem, and I am hoping that the new film brings more attention to it again! In fact, if you are a fan of the new Coen Brothers version, you really must read this book. They didn't so much adapt it as use it as a screenplay. The dialogue is almost completely the same, from the narration to the spoke...more
James Thane
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross is looking for someone with true grit whom she can hire to avenge the murder of her father who's been shot down in cold blood by a thief named Tom Chaney. She finds one-eyed Marshal Rooster Cogburn who agrees to take the job and then insists on accompanying him into Indian Territory in pursuit of the killer.

Mattie, who recounts the story from her perspective an elderly woman, is a teriffic invention--a smart, gutsy young girl who's cool under pressure, who takes no...more
Noeleen
This was a welcome change from my normal genres. I’ve only read one other ‘Western’, The Sisters Brothers, which I loved, so I thought it was due time for another. I haven’t seen either movie adaptations of True Grit and I knew nothing about story so I really didn’t know quite what to expect. I enjoyed it. It’s a quick and quirky read. I loved the story told from the voice of Mattie Ross, a strong, determined, fiesty little firecracker of a character. Now there’s someone who can stand up for the...more
Tara Chevrestt
Feb 26, 2010 Tara Chevrestt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tara by: Nancy
There are over a hundred reviews for this already so I will just keep it short and simple. This was a fun read, a western with a lady in the lead. Mattie Ross is saucy and funny and she hooks up with two lawmen in order to track down and take revenger on her dad's killer. There's pony riding, gun shooting, and even flying fingers! But will she get her man?

Favorite laugh out loud moment: When a ferry operator forces Mattie and her pony off the boat against her will and is leading her up a hill, i...more
Phrynne
So I had to read a Western for a challenge and Westerns are certainly not a genre I ever read! Then I came across this little book at the library and of course I had already seen the movie. So I gave the book a try and it was delightful. Mattie is one of those lovely heroines who stand up for their rights and win against great odds. She chooses Rooster because he shows"true grit" but of course the description applies to Mattie too. She is smart and mature for her age but at the same time it is o...more
Becky
My god, where has this book been? I wish that I had read it near a decade ago when I was twenty, and I wish I had read it a decade before that when I was 10. This is the perfect cowboys versus bandits, violent enough to keep your attention, but discreet enough that it would be the perfect literary frontier for a growing young mind. Wow. That was a short, great read, and I honestly feel like starting it right over.

I loved Mattie. A perfect character. She is brazen, stoic, vengeful, she is a force...more
Jake
After I saw the Coen Brother's adaptation of "True Grit" and told my friends how much I enjoyed it, a bunch of them recommended that I read Charles Portis' original novel. It's rare for people to admit a Western is a personal favorite, because like mysteries and fantasy and sci-fi and other genre books, Westerns are usually portrayed as low-culture trash. This, of course, is false- all genres have masterpieces- and though I haven't read many Westerns, the last two that I read (Cormac McCarthy's...more
Paul
I've read only one other Charles Portis novel, Norwood, which I loved. Now that I've also read True Grit, I'll start grabbing everything by Portis that's still in print. The man is a genius at creating eccentric characters who tell their stories in unselfconscious, straightforward ways. And what interesting stories. I never would have guessed what Charles Portis' novel was like from watching the 1969 John Wayne movie adaptation. I hear the Coen brothers' 2010 adaptation is closer in spirit to th...more
Adriana Jacobs
My copy of True Grit (Kindle version) includes Donna Tartt's afterword, where she unpacks the possible meanings and intentions that underly the statement "I love this book." Some books we love because they enamored us as children but don't hold up to later rereadings. Or, to quote True Grit's protagonist Matti Ross, "I expect some of the starch has gone out of that 'cowlick.'" Some books are beloved life-long companions regardless of their wrinkles. I feel this way about Clarice Lispector's Hour...more
Lars Guthrie
I first read ‘True Grit’ almost two years ago, which was a good move. With the John Wayne movie ancient history and no knowledge of the Coen Brothers’ intentions, I could enjoy Portis’s novel for itself. And it’s an American classic, right up there with the best of them.

With the release of the new movie, I returned to the book, and also determined to read the rest of Portis’s oeuvre, as well as to see the first movie.

A number of reviews of the recent movie and articles about it referred back to...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Classic Trash: True Grit: Finished (spoilers) 3 6 Sep 17, 2014 07:01AM  
Classic Trash: True Grit: In Progress (No Spoilers) 14 4 Sep 12, 2014 10:22AM  
Kansas City Publi...: Three faces of Mattie 1 17 Oct 18, 2013 11:54AM  
Kansas City Publi...: True Grit: A reliable narrator? 2 14 Oct 14, 2013 04:55PM  
Kansas City Publi...: True Grit: Justice or Retribution 3 18 Oct 06, 2013 05:37AM  
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Charles McColl Portis was born in 1933, in El Dorado Arkansas and was raised in various towns in southern Arkansas. He served in the Marine Corps during the Korean war and after his discharge in 1955 attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He graduated with a degree in journalism in 1958.

His journalistic career included work at the Arkansas Gazette before he moved to New York to work...more
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“You must pay for everything in this world one way and another. There is nothing free except the Grace of God. You cannot earn that or deserve it.” 117 likes
“Lookin' back is a bad habit.” 56 likes
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