Sunday, January 09, 2005

Why have I never read True Grit? I've read Charles Portis' Dog of the South and scooped up a used copy of Gringos two or three years back; why ignore the western? Donna Tartt calls it a masterpiece in the Guardian and has totally sold me on reading it:

"Certainly when I was growing up in the 1970s, True Grit was widely thought to be a classic; when I was about 14 years old, it was read along with Walt Whitman and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allen Poe in the Honors English classes at my school. Yet (because, I believe, of the John Wayne film, which is good enough but which doesn't do the book justice) True Grit vanished from the public eye, and my mother and I, along with many other Portis fans, were reduced to scouring used-book stores and buying up whatever stock we could find because the copies we lent out so evangelically were never returned. (In one particularly dark moment, when my mother's last copy had disappeared and a new one was nowhere to be had, she borrowed the library's copy and then pretended that she had lost it)."

I reread the first two chapters of Heir to the Glimmering World yesterday and am continuing on with it today. The main character, who has to go to a teacher college although she cares about nothing but reading novels, lives with a cousin-in-law until said cousin takes up with a radical socialist who cares for nothing but the coming revolution and is driven into a fury when she sees the main character reading Jane Austen:

"Ninel was angry at Jane Austen not only on account of the British Empire--she was angry at all novels. Novels, like movies, were pretend-shadows; they failed to diagnose the world as it was in reality. 'Crutches,' she said, 'distractions. And meanwhile the moneybags and the corporate dogs eat up the poor.' For Ninel, the only invention worse than novels and movies was religion."

Ninel spoils Rose's chances of turning her cousin into her own Mr. Knightley and Rose, turned out on her own, becomes involved with a family of refugees from Berlin. I'm beginning to see the references to Middlemarch and also to Winnie-the-Pooh (as well its effects on Christopher Robin Milne).

1 comment:

John said...

Hi, June. Did you ever get to read True Grit? I hope so. I push that book whenever possible. I think it's one of the most under-rated works of the past 40 years.

I came across your post while searching the web for info on a writer named James Whorton, Jr., also a great comic southern writer in the Portis vein. You might enjoy his novel Frankland.

Happy reading!