"He drank even as he rode, which looked difficult. I cannot say it slowed him down any, but it did make him look silly. Why do people wish to be silly?"
Something weird happened the other week- Someone on the internet said a book was good and I ACTUALLY read it. I know what you're thinking- that's not even weird, most of what she reads now has been recommended by the internet, and you're right, of course. But normally I read things go 'yeah, that sounds cool' I maaaaybe buy it and if I do, it stays on my shelf forever until I read it. Every. Time.
BUT! Alley read True Grit the other week and within mere DAYS I was down at the library getting it (I also got Where'd You Go, Bernadette? at the same time, and what a TREAT that was too!) which I'm obviously going to attribute solely to Alley's review and not to the fact that I watched the film last year (Or... the year before? Who knows!) and meant to read the book and never got round to it and actually it's just the same old story all over again, isn't it? Whatever- thank you Alley for being inspiring/reminding me of stuff. Nice work.
So, True Grit is awesome. It's a Western, which I have basically no experience of other than The Sisters Brothers (which was also amazing) so I don't know if its typical of its genre or not- I'd like to think it's exceptional because otherwise I'm missing out on this whooole world of books, and also because it kind of feels exceptional- not least because it's about a girl, who also happens to be the fucking badassest of all 14 year old girls in the whole of human history. I mean, seriously- teenage girls who are reading YA should probably just read this if they want a good role model because seriously, Mattie is the toughest teen- probably one of the toughest people in all the books in the whole world.
(I might be exaggerating, but at this point I don't even know- just accept the fact that she's awesome and we'll move on.)
SO. Mattie's deal is that her father has just been killed and she's gone down to Fort Smith to get his body and sort out his affairs AND, her real mission is to hunt down her father's killer (Tom Chaney) and avenge her father's death (she's fourteen. And a girl. And it's the nineteenth century. And she's the best. Have I mentioned that yet?) To do this, she goes to hire a US Marshal- she asks who the best one is, and then chooses the one with the most 'grit', Rooster Cogburn. Now, Cogburn is awesome (he's sort of a drunk but he's pretty tough for a one eyed fat dude) but I think we all know that the character with TRUE grit is Mattie. Just... Solving the title for you there. You're welcome.
Making the plot a little richer is Laboeuf, a Texas Ranger (so yeah, you pronounce it LaBeef and all of France just died) who's also hunting down Chaney for separate reasons and who, being less drunk-all-the-time than Rooster is less keen on taking a 14 year old girl into the wild to hunt down a known murderer, all of which is sensible in real life terms, but in book terms makes him a total blowhard. Regardless, Mattie's reaction to his douchiness makes everything worth it:
"'Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young, and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt.'
'One would be as unpleasant as the other,' I replied."I mean, really that's the only way to react to someone who said he wanted to kiss you who also pronounces his name Labeef. What a dick.
ANYWAY. The three of them set off on their quest, hijinks ensue and the last 50 pages are kind of the best- they're all action packed and exciting and you're not really sure what's going to happen (ahem... unless you've seen the film. But I didn't remember it completely) and it's all very tense and possibly I read these pages in one go. And also some other pages. Yeah, it's really good to read. And obviously I'm not going to tell you if they catch Chaney or WHAT even happens, but the thing is, that's not really the point of it by the end- as in so many things, it's all about the journey rather than the actual end result.
So. True Grit would be worth reading solely for Mattie's narration (it's very matter of fact and to the point as is her speaking style, and this sometimes translates as being unintentionally hilarious, but never in a laughing-at-Mattie way) because she is so excellent, but luckily it also has the story and action and excitement to back it up. It's a really quick read, and, dare I say it? Almost perfect for summer/beach reading. But it'll definitely take some of the romance out of horse riding for you, if that's a thing you were ever romantic about. It sounds very ouchy.
And I leave you with these words of wisdom:
"Nature tells us to rest after meals and people who are too busy to heed that inner voice are often dead at the age of fifty years." Naps FTW.