Blogging is writing. So here is where I begin to write about books I’ve recently read and can recommend.
Mostly non-fiction, but I want to start with True Grit by Charles Portis. It’s not a new book (1968). John Wayne starred in the first film and the Coen brothers are about to release their new version on December 22nd. Jeff Bridges is cast as Rooster Cogburn. Imagine Crazy Heart meets the Old West.
Mattie Ross, the central protagonist in True Grit, is an American heroine and her pursuit of justice for the murder of her father is intrinsically compelling. My book group just finished discussing it and made it even richer in the reading.
To be able to write from the perspective of an old woman recounting the childhood events more than sixty years earlier is a daunting task for a modern white male writer and yet the voice is convincingly authentic. Overlook Press reissued this classic American western in 2004 and it is widely available in paperback and at the libraries.
I’ll be curious to see how the Coen brothers treat the book. They have previous experience giving authentic voice to strong female leads (Marge in Fargo), and the movie is holiday eye candy. So I’ll be in line at the movie theater to see it this Christmas.
Charles Portis wrote a historical novel with a journalistic specificity that makes the Old West come alive again. The genre of Westerns is now more appreciated by the German reading public than our own. It died a slow death in television serials and cheap pulp novels. But True Grit is great American literature. Humorous, action packed, colorful characters and a larger moral.