Books: The Ballad of Mattie Ross

TRUE GRIT by Charles Portis. 215 pages. Simon & Schuster. $4.95.

Publishers, cowering behind their accountants' ledgers, aim primarily to pick off winners, not pick up literature. But every once in a while, through the magic of ricochet and carom, they manage to do both with a single resounding shot. Such is the fate of this book. True Grit is a lean but plucky novel that has been sold to the movies for $300,000, serialized in the Saturday Evening Post and chosen as a Literary Guild selection. It is also gilded with literary quality that...

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