Book – Many will be familiar with the classic western True Grit thanks to the well-known film adaptations, the first in 1969 starring John Wayne and the second in 2010 directed by the Cohen Brothers. While Charles Portis’s novel is straightforward and at times predictable, what makes True Grit so good is the dialogue and the characters, especially the narrator, thirteen-year old Mattie Ross. Mattie’s pluck and perseverance make her one of the most memorable protagonists I’ve encountered in a while. True Grit’s other lead Rooster Cogburn, is a crotchety and perpetually drunk US marshal hired by Mattie to find her father’s killer. Although Rooster and Mattie are disparate personalities in nearly every way, they both have that rarest of traits: true grit. The relationship between the two is the foundation on which Portis builds a novel that is an effective character study, as well as a tension filled adventure.
The audiobook is narrated by Donna Tartt, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Secret History and The Goldfinch. I sought out the audiobook mainly due to a curiosity about how one of my favorite authors would fare as a narrator. Tartt gives each character a distinct voice, although her best and most convincing depiction is Mattie. I recommend True Grit not only for fans of westerns, but for anyone interested in an exciting story populated by dynamic, engaging characters.