Negotiations Begin In Turkey
Plus Charles Portis, Martin Gurri, Phil Magness, Nancy Rommelmann, Jason Riley
A reminder that tomorrow evening is our night for our March Book Club session on Charles Portis’s True Grit. I was planning on 8 PM again, if that time works for most people, considering we had people in so many time zones! By way of preview, I encourage you to read Donna Tartt’s introduction to the 2005 edition:
No living Southern writer captures the spoken idioms of the South as artfully as Portis does; but though in all his novels (including those set in the current day), Portis shows his deep understanding of place, True Grit also masters the more complicated subtleties of time. Mattie, having survived her youthful adventure, is recounting her story as an old woman, and Portis is such a genius of a literary mimic that the book reads less like a novel than a first-hand account: the Wild West of the 1870s, as recollected in a spinster’s memory and filtered through the sedate sepia tones of the early 1900s. Mattie’s narrative tone is naive, didactic, hard-headed, and completely lacking in self-consciousness—and, at times, unintentionally hilarious… a great part of True Grit’s charm is in Mattie’s blasé view of frontier America. Shootings, stabbings, and public hangings are recounted frankly and flatly, and often with rather less warmth than the political and personal opinions upon which Mattie digresses. She quotes scripture; she explains and gives advice to the reader; her observations are often overlaid with a decorative glaze of Sunday school piety. And her own very distinctive voice (blunt, unsentimental, yet salted with parlour platitudes) echoes throughout the reported speech of all the other characters—lawmen and outlaws alike—to richly comic effect, as when Rooster remarks austerely of a young prisoner he has brought back alive to stand trial: “I should have put a ball in that boy’s head instead of his collarbone. I was thinking about my fee. You will sometimes let money interfere with your notion of what is right.”
This week’s podcast at Fox News features a conversation with Nancy Rommelmann — back recently from a trip to Western Ukraine and Poland — on what she saw there and more. That’s followed up with a conversation with Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal on his latest book and more. As always, I hope you’ll subscribe.
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