Charles Portis did something that few of us have the stones to do. He gave up a well paying job as a journalist and left the city to move to a cabin and write the great American novel.
A few months back when I heard the news of the Coen brothers remake of True Grit, it was exciting. Mostly because – unlike the 1969 version starring John Wayne – the new True Grit would very closely follow the original Portis story. In fact, Ethan and Joel Coen instructed Matt Damon not to watch the original film, they told him to read the book. And the book is truly great.
I can identify with what Portis did by giving up his job and life in the city by moving back home (to Arkansas) to follow his true passion. It is at least a feeling I can appreciate. It takes a lot of guts and the fact of the matter, change is almost always difficult.
Both True Grit and Charles Portis’ first novel Norwood both became popular movies. John Wayne ended up winning an Oscar for his role as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, which is the same thing I can see happening to Jeff Bridges, who is magnificent in the role. But the real star here is the story. If you haven’t read the book, I suggest you do so. Going to see the new True Grit after having read the book made it all that much more enjoyable. The Coens executed the film perfectly, in my opinion. Even Jason Bourne, er, Matt Damon was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly because, prior to this, I couldn’t see Damon as much of a Western guy. But Matt Damon is terrific, as is the whole cast.
All that said, none of it could come close to being as great as the book. I suggest you own it and read it.