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Copyright 1968 True Grit by Charles Portis

April 5, 2018


     Carson City social media Call for Artists. All entries will be displayed. Books will be given away. Hmmmm? I scrolled through, not stopping until "TRUE GRIT" lit up the screen. So, yes, I'm a BIG John Wayne fan. Yep. It was part of my all-American upbringing. And as an educator I'm also BIG on reading and promoting literature. So, yes, big sigh, I'm like "count me in!"   

     So before even receiving the confirmation email, or the "special" supplies in the mail, I'm at the county library. Humboldt County is advertised as Cowboy Country, but a copy of Charles Portis' classic True Grit was nowhere to be found. So it's requested from nearby McDermitt; Fort McDermitt, the local Paiute and Shoshone Indian Reservation, 70 miles to the North. I find that they have the only copy left in circulation ironic and sad at the same time. 

     Once I have the borrowed book in hand, I sat down to read what I feel is a fairly well-known story. Because of the block buster movie starring an aging and larger than life John Wayne, I leaned back in my easy-chair. I read the "True Praise for True Grit" and the Afterward. I am surprised I've never read this classic. I certainly watched this movie a hundred times on TV and on VHS. However, I am not prepared for the written form -the explicit description of murder, hangings, killings, train robberies and nonstop action. It's Mattie's powerful narrative, sharp word and wit, but she's an old woman, not the spunky kid I remember from the movie. 

     She's tired from working her entire adult life as a caregiver for her mother. She's never married. She has use of one arm. But most of all she's still full of vim and vigor. It's important to note that the story line is written by a man through a young teenage girl's eyes. Portis doesn't shield her experiences, but given the time, he captures a sense of the west that was NOT glamorized. Sure, Marshall Reuben Cogburn is the star, but his rapport with Mattie is more often than not, a bit rough. 

     So while I encourage everyone to pick up this or any of Portis' books, I must admit I want to find this old flick on Netflix and chill. Before I do that though, I'm working on creating a piece of art I won't mind hanging in my longroom with my cowboy memorabilia. It's a multi-media blitz aka what was I thinking process. I'm using new photographs and tweaking a painting technique that reminds me of old fashioned decoupage. As the deadline approaches, I stopped painting to finish the book. It's John Wayne's BIG voice I hear in my head. I have a cup of hot tea and an easy-chair. Life is good.



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