The Old West occupies a relatively short era in American history, and it is in that colorful period that Charles Portis’ True Grit unfolds. To get the ball rolling on this year’s Big Read, scholar Tom Averill examines how the novel depicts those years and the characteristics that unite all Westerns – among them coming-of-age stories and themes of diversity and racism, violence and genocide, and justice.
Averill is a professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he is writer-in-residence. He is author of three novels: rode, Secrets of the Tsil Café, and The Slow Air of Ewan MacPherson. He has received the O. Henry Award for his short story collections.