History’s “Actors”



Fishtrap brought novelist Molly Gloss to town last week to further the Big Read discussion of Charles Portis’s book, True Grit. Molly’s task was to trace the role of women from “dime novels” to the present day.
True Grit, written about a time and place—Arkansas and the Indian Territory in years immediately following the Civil War—was written in the 1960s and published in 1968. Gloss told us that 14 year old protagonist Mattie Ross, who bore some resemblance to the “tom boy” women of the dime novels, differed in that she “moves the action” in the story. The tom boys of older books were there for color—not action. The more important women in those old novels were the frail Paulines waiting to be saved by brave cowboys. Even as they gained some weight and education as schoolmarms, their role in the story was to be saved by the male hero—who
Read The Article

True Grit, the Civil War, and yes—Alvin Josephy


Fishtrap—the old literary non-profit that kept me going for over 20 years, is back with another National Endowment for the Arts sponsored “Big Read” this month. The book is Charles Portis’s True Grit—the tale of a 14 year-old girl named Mattie Ross avenging her father’s murder with the help of a Federal Marshall/gunman named Rooster Cogburn in a chase that begins in Arkansas and ends in Indian Territory. 
 
I’d never read the book, and have only vague memories of John Wayne/Rooster and the girl traipsing across hard ground in a series of shoot-‘em-ups, gradually coming to terms with each other and eventually gaining some revenge. I have not seen the new film, so the movie picture poster of John Wayne was stuck in my mind as I began to read.
And then the book took over, the story carried me along. And the text didn’t send me back to the
Read The Article