Saturday, December 02, 2023

Larry McMurtry Shows Us The Way

 December 2, 2023

   As the old saying goes, he led by example. Dang, that Texan could write. He was prolific, to say the least. I finished the new biography "Larry McMurtry: A Life" by Tracy Daugherty and it was very inspiring for a kid from Kingman.

   First off, I have a thing about underlining words or sentences in my books. I don't want to deface them because they are treasures to me and I don't want someone coming in behind me and trying to read it and saying to themselves, "Why in the living hell did that old coot underline that word?" But, in the end, I just couldn't help it. There were too many choice phrases and sentences and concepts I just had to grab for future reference.

Number One Keeper

Ten More Keepers

The Spanish Disappointment

• "The American West as we know it today came about in response to European—particularly Spanish—disappointment. North American treasures could not match the Aztec or Inca vaults, so old-world monarchs lessened their investment in the region, leaving settlers to their own, frequently misguided ways."

Hometown Grievances

• "If I didn't love the place I'd hate it violently." Larry speaking of his hometown Archer City, Texas

Billy Bonney Disdain

• McMurtry did not care for Billy the Kid, saying, "How could [Bonney] have produced a legend, and a bibliography with thousands of items in it?. . .There's an element of sheer publicity in it." As is evidenced by his shabby book (my least favorite) "Anything for Billy."

All My Exes Are Gonna Be Texas Pagans?

• "Texas isn't as religious as it thinks it is. . .Underneath there is a strong current of heresy and paganism."

Larry Could Be Blunt

• "The job of the writer is to make up shit."

His Mother Didn't Get Him

• "Larry, honey, is that what we're sending you to Rice for? Those awful words?"

The McMurtry Machine

• "If you leave a cow alone, he'll eat grass. If you leave Larry alone, he'll write books."—Dave Hickey

Hollywood Hard-ons

• "It's a charming thing to watch when moviemakers have ideas. The delight these 'ideas' occasion, when they finally appear, approximates what an ardent 89-year-old lover might feel upon discovering that he has an erection."

Rodeo Kabuki

• "Rodeo merely pantomimes ranch life; bull riding and barrel racing are just costumed Kabuki."

Sky Driver

• McMurtry, had an early memory—about age 6—of being in the car with his father on a "long, long stretch of route 66. . .I thought my father was driving us into the sky." Elsewhere in the book, he describes driving home to Texas from the east, "The sky had quickly opened up, become a Western sky, with Western horizons beneath it. Coming into the openness, time after time, brought relief and indeed a kind of exhilaration. This lifting (and a corresponding lowering as I drove back east), occurred many times; I began to understand it bespoke a kind of sky longing."

"Being a writer and a Texan is an amusing fate."

—Larry McMurtry


  1. Anonymous4:30 PM

    Larry McMurtry was interviewed, among others, for the 25th anniversary of the book "Lonesome Dove" and the article appeared in the July 2010 edition of Texas Monthly. Mr. McMurtry said: "The book is permeated with criticism of the West from start to finish. Call's violence, for example. But people are nostalgic for the Old West, even though it was a terrible culture. Not nice. Exterminated the Indians. Ruined the landscape. By 1884 the plains were already overgrazed. We killed the right animal, the buffalo, and brought in the wrong animal, wetland cattle. And it didn't work. The cattle business was never a good business. Thousands went broke."

    Mark TW Maniac 235

  2. When I read Horseman, Pass By the first time I couldn't believe it was LM's debut novel. That story filled me with so many emotions, and captured a sense of loneliness I recognized growing up in the country. I new all those men-I new many Homers and at least one... maybe two Huds. I've read it 4 times since and always feel the same way. The man could write. Even thinking about it makes me long for a country porch and a bowl peach ice cream. And I agree with you on Anything for Billy, but it's his views on Custer that leave me the most sour.


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