©1968 Charles Portis; (P)2006 Recorded Books, LLC
"Charles Portis is perhaps the most original, indescribable sui generis talent overlooked by literary culture in America." (Esquire)
“Tom Wolfe, who worked with Portis as a reporter at the New York Herald-Tribune in the early 1960s called him – the original laconic cutup. A generation of novelists since then have simply regarded him as a writers-writer and have made his name a sort of secret password. Soon, they’ll no longer have him to themselves.” (Rolling Stone Magazine)
“Like Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man, Charles Portis’s True Grit captures the nanve elegance of the American voice.” (Jonathan Lethem)
This is my first encounter with "true grit" and I was very pleasantly surprised! Wanted to listen before going to the Coen brothers version. I agree with many who have said it is a modern classic. Keeps your attention, brilliant dialogue, characters that stick with you. I completely disagree with other listeners who did not like the narrator. Her interpretation of male voices is no worse than the best male narrators attempts at female voices; while her reading of young Mattie was amazing! There would not be a better narration without a full cast. I have listened to over 500 audible books, and would rate this in the top 10% at least.
Charles Portis' book is terrific, a classic tale told well. His gift for dialogue is impressive. I can't think of a better person to read it than Donna Tartt. Certainly she was not going to capture the voice of any vision we might have of Rooster Cogburn. But this is Mattie Ross' story and she tells it wonderfully. I also enjoyed the essay at the end of audiobook. It explained well the passion that Ms. Tartt brought to her reading. This is a good investment, and a perfect companion to either movie version you prefer!
I really liked both of the movies made from this book, and so I really looked forward to listening to it. I was not disappointed. It was a great story, and very well written. The question remains, "Who really had True Grit?" To me the answer was #1 Maddi Ross. She was a plucky, brave and self-confident girl, and I admire her courage and presence of mind in the face of great danger and emotional upheaval. #2 One cannot say that Rooster Cogburn did not have True Grit however. I think Jeff Bridges played him a little truer to the character in the book, but I will forever love the John Wayne character as well. They were both so well done! I will never forget watching Jeff Bridges carry Maddi on his back after Little Blacky died, which is exactly what happens in the book. Now that was True Grit. #3 LeBoeff also showed that he had Grit when he was the one who in the end saved the day. Let's just say it was a Gritty cast of characters and there is much to be learned from each one. This book is well worth reading more than once.
I liked the narrator, Donna Tartt, very much, but she did go through a period of time at about the half way point where the swallowing and other non-verbal mouth sounds got to be a little annoying. I just didn't think it was necessary to have those sounds in there, what with modern recording devices and all. Other that that I thought she was very good. I especially enjoyed her comments at the end of the book.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
This is a concise, suspenseful, funny, philosophical, and ultimately sad novel that gives an unvarnished look at the American West and the complicated men and women who lived in it and helped to make its myth. The relationship between fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn, the man she hires to bring the murderer of her father to justice, is enjoyable to watch develop. For Mattie, who is narrating the story as an old woman in the early 20th century, her brief time in Indian Territory hunting outlaws with Rooster Cogburn was the most memorable moment in her life.
One reviewer was bothered by the reader Donna Tartt's audible "swallowing or breathing," and some reviewers were bothered by her "unconvincing" male voices. All I can say is that Ms. Tartt is so good at reading the story, brings it so much to life, differentiates her voice for the different characters so effectively (including the men and boys), and inhabits Mattie Ross so completely, that it's easy to ignore any trivial ancillary sounds she might make as she reads. Her obvious love for and understanding of the novel shine through her savory voice.
A final bonus of this audiobook, in fact, is the closing essay by Tartt, in which she interestingly recounts her family history with True Grit and what it meant and means to her, re-reads some of its best lines and scenes, and offers a provocative analysis of the novel, comparing it to Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, and The Wizard of Oz.
In conclusion, this unsentimental, brutal, humorous, moving, and spicy audiobook was a great listen.
I absolutely loved this narration by Donna Tartt and her essay at the conclusion was charming. Her long love affair with Charles Portis' True Grit comes shining through in the reading. I've just now discovered the sheer pleasure of this piece of fiction and plan to pass it on to everyone who loves a good story.
It's a good story, but short, with great, but few, characters. It's more of a novella than a novel. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't consider it a classic. The ending was a bit predictable, and the denouement whipped through several decades and left a lot of questions.
I docked a star for the poor narration. The narrator's voice was perfect, but her lip smacking, breath noises, and pregnant pauses ruined it for me. I have never heard such a clunky sound track. I don't understand why they didn't simply edit them out -- just a few hours' work in Audacity and the narration would have been smooth and professional.
Donna Tart is outstanding and could not have been better suited to the task, she has a perfect understanding of the characters and brought them to life in vivid detail. The "voice" of the book is from the adult Mattie Ross and Tart's interpretation is pitch perfect.
As for Portis text, it is a classic and deserves higher praise than I can offer.
My college age granddaughter lives (and is born and raised) in Fort Smith, AR and when the new movie version of True Grit was coming out, I asked her if she was excited about it. She said "No, why?" and I said well the setting is in Fort Smith, haven't you ever watched the (very popular and often televised) John Wayne version, "from whence" he won his Academy Award and made the eye-patch comment? No, she never heard of it. Which was just beyond my belief. And she a literature major! So, I watched the new movie, which was advertised as more closely following the original novel by author Charles Portis. Very exciting movie, very enjoyable, a real time machine. So I am looking for a book to download for my next audible selection and it occurs to me to search for the novel by Charles Portis. Now I get to my point. I was frustrated with my granddaughter for spending her life in Ft. Smith and having no awareness of True Grit, and yet I had never read any Charles Portis novels, I had to be knocked on the head. And I am almost sure that if it weren't for the movie I would have missed the novel. I will give you a tip and it won't be a spoiler, particularly if you have already watched the movie(s). The narrator has attached an essay on the novel at the end of the reading. Consider "reading" the essay before you listen to the novel. The essay is worth the price of the novel and is inspiring in itself. There are still real people in this world, away from the cities and canned education and young people working so hard to fit precise molds defining what it means to be popular and accepted. Donna Tartt is a discovery as valuable as the novel itself, and as I said, I had to be knocked on the head to find the novel and her reading. I have a prejudice, which is that I felt the only way to experience literature is to actually read the tangible book as the author intended and people have been doing for a thousand years. However, fine narrators such as Donna Tartt enhance my reading.
First the book: The story is enjoyable, but I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever known. Mattie is tough as nails and I found her pluck quite endearing, but I didn't find myself thinking about the characters when I was away from the book the way I have with other novels.
Now for the narrator: Donna Tartt is the perfect voice for the Mattie. As soon as she starts reading, the main character is 100% believable. Her male voices are ok, but a little slow in pace. I did, however, admire how she used different accents for Asians, Native Americans, and Mexicans. No easy task with a drawl as rich as Tartt's. Kudos for the diversity. However..... I kept getting drawn out of the story with Tartt's incessant swallowing and slightly-too-long pauses between paragraphs. I wonder if this was recorded in her own home studio or something. I don't ever recall hearing so much swallowing or noticeable pauses in any other books I've listened to. It was really quite annoying.
So, I guess I'd recommend this audiobook to history buffs and people who can tune out distracting noises, but if you tend to fixate on those sounds, this recording will drive you crazy.
The book is a classic, some say a masterpiece. Funny, poignant, and the kind story that is so enjoyable and expertly written that it will make you want to start over again at the beginning when you finish.
Donna Tartt isn't a professional narrator (she's an accomplished author in her own right who happens to also be a big fan of this book), but she makes the absolute most of her naturally sweet Southern lilt. It fits the main character well, and ultimately, I enjoyed her read. This said, it would be nice to hear what a pro could do with characters like those in this book.
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