West of Rehobeth
By Alexs D. Pate
Narrated by Dion Graham
AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIT; BILDUNGSROMAN; HISTORICAL FICTION
I saw True Grit this weekend and wasn’t disappointed. I also read Charles Portis’s book when it came out back in 1968 (and wasn’t disappointed). And the 1969 movie (ditto).
I loved the book; it was a great Western yarn à la Lonesome Dove, but with Portis’s sardonic journalistic wit underneath…
The narrator, Donna Tartt, is an author in her own right who *loves* this book, as averred in her short essay at the end of the audio. I’ll not fault her strong Mississippi accent; but she is not a narrator and brings no added value to the production. D.T. lacks the fluidity required to keep the story going, drawing attention to the “he saids” and deploying pauses that even the kindest listener could not interpret as a meaningful or dramatic. There are booth noises, an occasional mouth noise and, some of her words are clipped just a fraction of second too short. This is a quick and dirty production.
The 1969 screenplay is truer to the original story up to a point but then Marguerite Roberts (screenwriter) blows the ending so badly it’s painful and, it negates the value of having adhered to the novel’s points previously. The ’69 movie ends much more upbeat than the novel and paves the way for a sequel. The whole of the movie is much brighter than the novel might suggest, reflecting the film-making sensibilities of the times. Dirt, drunkeness and even blood are more inferred than illustrated – giving the movie a “clean” and staged look. The actors perform self-consciously and none of the characters are fully realized. The delivery of the language is very modern in tone, characters sounding more like mid-twentieth century people than mid-nineteenth.
Recommendation: Read the book in print. The audio and the movies all fall short of Charles Portis’ writing.
True Grit qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. True Grit is a short novel set in Western Arkansas and, Eastern Oklahoma in the Indian Territory/Choctaw Nation.
View dogearedcopy map 2011 in a larger map
“… the peculiar taste for Royal Crown Cola with Planters salted peanuts…”
(West of Rehoboth by Alexs D. Pate; narrated by Dion Graham)
I was listening to the audio of West of Rehoboth last night and RC Cola and Planters peanuts was mentioned. Stop. What is this? A quick google revealed that in many parts of the U.S. South, dumping salted peanuts into a bottle of RC was a fairly common thing. I say “was” because many of the references I came across were nostalgic, the advent of high fructose corn syrup and plastic bottles apparently ruining the sweet-and-salty effect of the original. I came across slight variations of RC and Planters: Coke and Lances Peanuts and, even Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew with peanuts; but all recipes were adamant on three points: 1) The soda must have sugar as the sweetener (not HFCS;) 2) The soda needs to be drunk from a glass bottle and; 3) the peanuts cannot be anything other than salted (no dry roasted, unsalted, etc.)
I will try anything at least once so last night I went in search of a glass bottle of RC Cola with sugar. I reasoned that this might not be too difficult as I had seen several sodas recently (Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper in particular) branded as “Throwbacks” (made with cane sugar instead of HFCS.) Unfortunately, the only place that had RC Cola sold them in plastic 2-liter bottles and in 12-pack cans. The only “Throwback” products were the ones I mentioned above. At one point, I was nearly overwhelmed and admittedly a little put off by all the different chemical combinations that comprise the soda aisles of various grocery stores; but I digress.
So the hunt for a sugar-based cola in a glass bottle continues! Every once in a while a palette of Mexican Coke shows up at our local warehouse grocery store so I expect that the off-chance of getting one of these (they go extraordinarily fast) will be the best shot I have of trying this culinary note from the South. In the meantime, I should go track down those little snack packages of salted peanuts, so I’m ready to seize the opportunity when it comes. 7-11, here I come!
EDIT: 26JUL2015 – I eventually found Lancer’s Peanuts and MexiCokes readily available and have been enjoying them for about a year 🙂