Tuesday, December 05, 2023

The Best Issue of True West Magazine Ever? It's The Contradictions, Ese!

 December 5, 2023

   By my count we have done 253 issues of True West magazine since we bought the dang title back in 1999. And, I have to say, the one that is on the way to the printer today, is the best one I have ever worked on, ever.

   It is quite juicy and the best news is that there are pages and pages of photographs I have never seen before. Our intrepid editor, Stuart Rosebrook, searched high and low in the archives and online, to find some rare images and the result is a spectacular and epic round up of the best cowboy photos I have ever seen in one place. Plus, you will find out how to spot a dude. It's not as easy as you might think.

It's The Contradictions, Ese!

    Now that I've finished the Larry McMurtry bio, I finally see that one of the strengths Larry brought to his stories, and especially "Lonesome Dove," is the epic contradictions. The two old Texas Rangers are quarreling and Gus says, "Me and you did our work too well. We killed off most of the people that made this country interesting to begin with." An early admission regarding the wrong-headedness of the cowboy ethos. There are tons of other examples but the most striking one is when Call (Tommy Lee Jones) visits Clara in Nebraska and she lets him have it: "I'm sorry you and Gus McCrae ever met. All you two done was ruin one another, not to mention those close to you." It goes on and she really nails him and his damned cowboy ethos: "You think you've always done right—that's your ugly pride—But you never did right and it would be a sad woman that needed anything from you." Then, the biographer Tracy Dougherty, sums it all up with, "Clara speaks here for McMurtry's mother and grandmothers, and for every other woman he knew growing up." Damn! So good.

   Somehow, all these wonderful contradictions seem to be missing from the sequels and prequels to "Lonesome Dove." I always chalked it up to stupid movie people not having any sense but then it comes out in the book that Larry and Diana Ossana were calling the shots on these misguided and empty offerings. Proof, I guess, that even the masters can lose their way.
   I'm having a sign made to hang over my writing computer that says, "It's the contradictions, Ese!"

"History is not a pledge. It's an argument."
—Jill Lapore


  1. Trey Gordon10:14 AM

    Sometimes what sounds true is better to publish than what is true!

  2. Anonymous2:20 PM

    Truth isn't always pretty but I like IL


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