Thursday, December 23, 2010
TRUE GRIT, WINTER’S BONE, AND CHRISTMAS
The October, 2006, edition of FIRSTS: THE BOOK COLLECTOR’S MAGAZINE featured the books of Charles Portis. Of True Grit, Robin H. Smiley writes:
“I was dazzled by the book, a turn on the traditional Western set apart by its use of vernacular and its unforgettable central characters , , ,seldom has a character been so finely hewn out of pure language as Mattie Ross. Portis’s judicious use of late-Nineteenth-century Western dialect is integral to establishing her strength and vitality.”
Indeed. In an Andrew Haddon interview, the Coen Brothers say that both the language and the humor in the book were crucial in the making of the movie:
“I have to say, one of the things, when we first saw the first take of Hailee [Steinfeld] doing a scene from the movie, 99.9% of the hundreds or thousands of girls that read for this part didn't have the facility to [speak as we needed them to]. They sort of washed out at the level of not being able to do the language. That was something which was never an issue with Hailee. Right from the beginning, it was clear that she was completely comfortable with the language. The language isn't, as everyone's pointed out, our language. That was the threshold level at which you could sort of hope to do the part, but Hailee had it right from the get-go in a very, very natural way.”
Coincidentally in that same issue of FIRSTS MAGAZINE, mentioned above, Robin Smiley wrote a long review of a new book, WINTER’S BONE by Daniel Woodrell, then retailing in first edition for $22.99, and with 40% off that at Amazon. Smiley touted it as the collectable book of the month, and indeed first editions are now selling for hundreds of dollars.
Of course, if you just want a reading copy of Winter's Bone or TRUE GRIT, there are plenty to be found. There is an unabridged audio edition of True Grit that is read by southern novelist Donna Tartt, author of THE SECRET HISTORY, "who includes a thoughtful, deeply felt and appreciative essay at the end of the recording."
Back then, Smiley wrote of WINTER'S BONE: