The 1969 film version of *True Grit* was a fine western, and I’ve watched it several times over the years. The 2010 film version was a great film–I can’t understand why it didn’t win best picture over *The King’s Speech.* In fact, the speech (dialogue) of the film that mesmerized me: no hillbilly mumbling here–even Lucky Ned Pepper with his shot lip has diction superior to today’s college grads. And since I was so impressed with the language, I picked up the book yesterday. I finished it today. Charles Portis, it turns out, is the fountain of those well-turned sentences.
The book, of course, is far richer than the movie. I’ll give you one little taste to give you the flavor. Here Mattie Ross makes a little comment on Judge Parker:
On his deathbed he asked for a priest and became a Catholic. That was his wife’s religion. It was his own business and none of mine. If you had sentenced one hundred and sixty men to death and seen around eighty of them swing, then maybe at the last minute you would feel the need for some stronger medicine than the Methodists could make. It is something to think about.