True Grit by Charles Portis
With all the fuss around the movie, I decided to read the book; if the movie is only half as enjoyable, it will be a must-see!
The book is written in the first person in the voice of Mattie Ross, the 14 year old daughter of Frank Ross who is shot dead by Tom Chaney, one of his own workers. The assured, confident style is reminiscent of To Kill A Mocking Bird or Catcher In The Rye - another two of my favourite books.
The story is fast-paced and the story is so well-written, dialogue just leaps off the page. For example, at one point La Boeuf the cocky Texas Ranger says:
"Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt."
"One would be as unpleasant as the other," I replied.
The scene where Mattie negotiates a refund from the horse trader, Stonehill, is masterful. All in all, she is a remarkable, memorable character whose words stay with you long after you have put the book down. (I read it in one sitting.)
Rooster Cogburn, the character played by John Wayne in the original 1969 movie is a far more complex and flawed character than depicted in that film and is all the more interesting for it.
Too many books are described as 'epic', 'classic' etc but this really does fit the bill and I hope the movie lives up to it.