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True Grit

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  39,133 ratings  ·  5,070 reviews
In the 1870s, young Mattie Ross learns that her beloved father was gunned down by his former handyman. But even though this gutsy 14-year-old is seeking vengeance, she is smart enough to figure out she can't go alone after a desperado who's holed up in Indian territory. With some fast-talking, she convinces mean, one-eyed US Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn into going after the d ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Harry N. Abrams (first published May 21st 1968)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  39,133 ratings  ·  5,070 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Revived review

R.I.P. Charles Portis 1933-2020

creator of Mattie Ross, who will live forever


Finding a novel which you can recommend to everybody is really not easy. Look at these totally five-star novels :

Lolita? nah, it’s about a paedophile

Ulysses? absolutely not, too hard, and no plot

Moby Dick? you kidding? recommend this and lose your friends!

A Clockwork Orange? – it’s not even in English!

Trainspotting? – see Clockwork Orange

Memoirs of Hadrian? See Ulysses, only also, it’s Roman

Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved it.

Mattie Ross is one of the great American children characters along with Huckleberry Finn and Scout Finch. Portis’ protagonist and narrator looks back from the early 1900s to her childhood in the 1870s, not long after the end of the Civil War, when she as a 14 year old girl went out into the Indian nation to find her father’s killer.

Reminiscent of Mark Twain (and also Barbara Kingsolver’s narration in The Poisonwood Bible) the lyric quality of Charles Portis’s prose is a treasure. Port
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grit-lit
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
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: portishead
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
Henry Avila
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of dynamic Mattie Ross, a spunky 14 -year -old girl, from Yell County Arkansas, who seeks justice , when her beloved father is treacherously murdered, on the streets by the reprehensible outlaw Tom Chaney in Fort Smith, in the Razorback State. Set in the late 1870's , the kid soon understands this, nobody wants to risk their precious life for free, to capture the dangerous fugitive . Informed that the one-eyed, patch wearing Rooster Cogburn, is the toughest marshal in town , working fo ...more
Feb 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Evan
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
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 cho
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
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Nothing is too long or too short either if you have a true and interesting tale" says one of my favorite narrators ever, 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who is engaged in hunting down her father's killer. She's recruited the nastiest character she can find, a fat drunken murderer named Rooster Cogburn, and she's out to the Wild West with blood on her mind.

Prim, judgey, business-minded, cold-blooded, pitiless, Mattie leaves you in little doubt about whether she can use the gun she's carrying or who's i
It was 1878 the year that Mattie’s father, Frank Ross, was shot and killed by Tom Chaney. Mattie was only fourteen, but filled with a need to avenge her father’s murder. So she leaves her home and family in Arkansas filled with determination and a need to locate a U.S. Marshal by the name of Rooster Cogburn – a man with a reputation for being an excellent shot despite having only one eye, a less-than pleasant temperament, and an alcoholic.

”The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I write this from the little town of Fort Smith, Arkansas – the place where Arkansans go if they can't take the heaving, helter-skelter metropolis of Little Rock. It seemed at first to be a rather unliterary place: when I asked around for a local bookshop, passers-by could direct me only to the Revelation Christian Bookstore, which seems to have staked its business model on bland modern Bible translations and pro-life bumper stickers. So it was quite a pleasant surprise finally to hit upon True ...more
Sanjay Gautam
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good story, is a story well told. And True Grit is such a story: pure story-telling ; with great characters. Nothing happens much for half of the book, but it is in the last hundred pages that real action happens that thrills you, and thrills you good. But it is the prose that is the unmistakable hallmark of the novel; the dialogues were crafted so beautifully that you want to read them again and again; and reading was, in itself, a pleasure. Very few books have this combination: excellent pro ...more
Joe Valdez
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: western
My introduction to the fiction of Charles Portis is True Grit, the 1968 novel that has long ranked at the top of my list of best opening sentences in any book. It's inspired two film adaptations, coming up short on lists of the best westerns for a lack of grandeur. But in literary form, Portis thrills with a strong point of view expressed through an unforgettable female protagonist, delights with frontier patois and satisfies the craving for a wonderfully spun yarn. It's a modestly ambitious sto ...more
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
After Huckleberry Finn probably the single greatest novel of the American West. It's been adapted twice for the films. Neither captures what makes this a book so great: the stern, judgmental, archaic, hilarious voice of the narrator, Mattie Ross. The kind of novel you find yourself revisiting every couple years. I learned more about "voice" from this story than from anything else I've ever read. ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns
"People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the winter-time to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day."

This is exactly what Mattie Ross, now on my list of all-time favorite narrators/protagonists, sets out to do in this entertaining and adventure-filled western. The industrious Mattie hires Deputy Marshall Rooster Cogburn to search for her father’s killer in the formidable In
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
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, favorites
Check out my review for this fantastic book on Grimdark Magazine at: Grimdark Magazine


So sad to hear the news. R.I.P. Charles Portis.


True Grit is a spectacular western that is full of heart with genuinely delightful characters that you instantly connect with. Charles Portis has created a wonderful tale of the west that will go down in my all time favourites.

“Fill your hand you son of a bitch!”

True Grit follows a young girl full of ‘grit’, setting out to bring her father’s murderer to just
I have always loved the old True Grit movie with John Wayne, and now I can say I love the novel too!

This entertaining 1870's Wild West adventure begins when a formidable and funny 14 year old Mattie Ross hires the fat and fearless one-eyed Sheriff Rooster Cogburn to track down outlaw Tom Chaney who gunned down her beloved father in cold blood. With the assistance of a Texas Ranger and repeated threats of retaliation from Mattie's relentless lawyer Daggett for anyone who gets in her way, the cont

Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My book is the 2010 reprint (with an afterward by Donna Tartt ) which coincided with the release of the the second True Grit movie directed by the Cohen Brothers and starring Jeff Bridges, but my memories of the story come straight from the great old John Wayne production in 1968, which most likely I watched on a black and white screen. Scrappy Mattie Ross is only 14 when she hires a beat up , mean , old one- eyed Marshall, Rooster Cogburn to help her avenge the robbery and death of her father b ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: western
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.

This is the story of Mattie Ross from Dardanelles, Arkansas and what a story it is! I haven't read anything else by Charles Portis but the voice of his protagonist is absolutely authentic and credible. To listen to this young girl, so assured, so determined, browbeat all those
"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
I have long meant to read this novel, and it is sad that the thing that finally got me to it was the death of the author. We lost Charles Portis on February 17, 2020. Sadder even than his death was knowing that he had suffered from Alzheimers for six years prior. Such a vicious disease that robs its victims of their very identity.

Mattie Ross from near Dardanelle in Yell County is one of the most memorable characters in Western literature. She is surrounded by other unforgettables, Rooster Cogbur
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, 2016
4.5 stars

This was a great pleasure. Rarely do books come with as strong a voice as Mattie Ross's.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2018
I was tempted to add this to my western shelf, but I don't HAVE a western shelf, because I don't read westerns. But True Grit is a pleasant surprise, a dark horse, a little page turner that could.

Quite simply, it's a classic mix of an upright, stubborn, and principled young girl out to avenge the murder of her father in post-Civil War Arkansas. She teams up with Rooster Cogburn, a wily old ask-no-questions marshal who brings them in more dead than alive, and a younger Texan dude named LaBoeuf (
Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

Young Mattie Ross, fourteen & with the fires of revenge in her eyes, sets off across the perilous native lands of Arkansas with a drunkard Marshal & a Texas bounty hunter to lay justice at the feet of her father's killer.

If this premise sounds badass, it's because it absolutely is.

The best part of this novel is our narrator, Mattie Ross. She's fearless & armed with an intimidating knowledge of Bible scripture. Her story is spoken without the self-interest or manipulation
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Because this is a well-loved classic, and especially because it is well-loved by some of my closest Goodreads friends, I feel I need to qualify my stars by saying, yes, I did like it. If I didn’t “really like” it, that’s merely because I get tired of ‘action’ rather quickly: as harrowing as Mattie’s last dilemma was, for me it went on too long (I know I have to be in the minority on that). I enjoyed the verbal interplay of the characters and the deadpan voice of Mattie, a woman looking
I needed a western to read for a challenge prompt and that is so far outside of my comfort zone, when a GR friend recommended this one.

True Grit was such a wonderfully told story, completely punched me in the gut towards the end and will be one that I will pay it forward and recommend to other friends to read. Mattie Ross is 14 and is ready to avenge her father's murder by Tom Chaney. She goes off to find a marshal with grit and meets Rooster Cogburn. Another Texas Ranger is also hunting for Mr
Oct 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect most American’s have seen the movie versions of True Grit and have a fondness for them. Whether a fan of Henry Hathawy’s John Wayne/Kim Darby version or the Coen Brother's Jeff Bridges/Hailee Steinfeld version the movies are western classics.

I’ve often wondered how much of the original book was captured in these movies vs invented by the screen writers, actors and directors but was never interested in reading the book until I read Emily Temple’s article on Lit Hub calling True Grit’s
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this novel in part because of Warwick's great review and I was not disappointed.

This addictively readable story is part comedy, part character study, part adventure, and part history lesson. I listened to the audio version narrated by Donna Tartt who is pitch-perfect as Maddie Ross. The audio edition also includes an interesting essay written by Tartt that looks at True Grit's appeal across multiple generations and discusses some of the reasons why it's so freakin' good.
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Charles McColl Portis was an American author best known for his novels Norwood (1966) and the classic Western True Grit (1968), both adapted as films. The latter also inspired a film sequel and a made-for-TV movie sequel. A newer film adaptation of True Grit was released in 2010.

Portis served in the Marine Corps during the Korean war and attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He gra

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