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Day 9

From p. 141 to p. 156 ("My name is Mattie Ross.")

September 11, 2020 by Ed Park

Picking up from the last quote. Mattie drifts off just as Rooster reaches the climax of his rambling story. “Rooster nudged me and said, ‘I say one of them marshals was Potter.’” “What?”

Rooster’s history of employment: “Nothing I like to do pays well.”

Wonderfully funny, and another reason Rooster’s so loquacious—in a fatherly way, trying to keep Mattie from despair.

Rooster talked all night. I would doze off and wake up and he would still be talking. Some of his stories had too many people in them and were hard to follow but they helped to pass the hours and took my mind off the cold.

Side note: Realize I’ve been like Mattie the past couple nights as I watch the (great) new Charlie Kaufman movie—eyes closing, opening, closing—wait, why are people dancing??…(I need to start earlier.)

“He said he knew a woman in Sedalia, Missouri, who had stepped on a needle as a girl and nine years later the needle worked out of the thigh of her third child.” Pure Portisian inspiration. R. should work at the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Lucky Ned Pepper and his crew make the scene, and everything snaps into focus. L.N.P. is a solid, believable name for a bandit, but the Original Greaser Bob is even better.

Reminds me of pizza naming conventions in NYC—Ray’s Pizza, Famous Ray’s Pizza, Famous Original Ray’s Pizza…

Another great name: Captain Boots Finch of the Choctaw Light Horse. Rooster “goosing” him as he gets a haircut is good stuff, as is the explanation of the Original Greaser Bob’s name.

Personal aside: The OGB inspired not one but two jokes in my novel (Personal Days): a character who has to go by Jack II (there is another Jack), and one named Chris who some call Grease.

The action is marvelously gripping. Through a “mesmerized” Mattie’s eyes we follow the firefight, Ned’s betrayal, the men and horses in motion.

“The scrap did not last as long as it has taken me to describe it.” In one brisk sentence, a canny take on writing, memory, time.

Have been avoiding mention of the two film adaptations of TG, but I’ll just note that though both have their virtues, the action actually works best on the page.

Aftermath, tension between Rooster and LaBoeuf, with M. tacitly taking L.’s side or at least seeing his position. L. wounded; R. gets jealous of M.’s ministrations. M.: “Why are you being so silly?”

The rider Ned killed “was really only a boy, not much older than I.” M. beginning to grasp what revenge really involves. “His mouth was open and I could not bear to look at him.”

Chaney is the villain, but is she complicit?

The robbery of the Katy Flyer (from the KT part of Missouri-Kansas-Texas RR). Tension flaring between L. and R., both comical (L. taking musical requests) and cutting (L. needling R. about Quantrill).

This is also another great scene of Rooster doing his job. He knows who to talk to and how to talk to them. (Also, Gaspargoo is ludicrously vivid in a nonspeaking role.)

Mattie introduces herself: “Perhaps you are wondering who I am.” Finch’s priceless reply: “I thought you were a walking hat.”

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