By Larry McMurtry
- Reviewed by Dom
I pride myself on reading several genres of books - thrillers, mysteries, biographies, business books, sci fi - and yet I’d never picked up a western. It was my son who said, “You enjoy watching movies that are westerns; why not a book?”
I’m glad I took his advice, although I’m not sure I should’ve started with Lonesome Dove. I’m afraid that after this no other western novel will be able to cut it. Lonesome Dove is that good.
Let’s start with the fact that the book is massive - my copy is a little over 850 pages. And yet you glide right through, with absolutely no dull moments or places where the story drags. That in itself is a credit to McMurtry’s skills, and goes a long way in explaining why this 1985 classic picked up the Pulitzer Prize.
Set in the late 1800s, the story begins in the tiny town of Lonesome Dove, but then covers a cattle drive from south Texas to Montana. There are several riveting characters, beginning with the tandem of Woodrow Call and Augustus (Gus) McCrae, two former Texas Rangers who could not be more different from each other. In an unusual style, McMurtry tells the story through multiple points of view - something I normally would find confusing, but which somehow works quite well in this writer’s hands.
Even the smaller characters come to life in a vibrant way. More than anything, you get a feel for the hard lives these people lived, where something as simple as a cool drink of water often seems like a gift. Plus, the back story on the primary characters is fascinating, and likely explains why such a long book reads so quickly.
So, if you’re like me, and have never waded in to the western novel world before, this would be a great opportunity for you. Lonesome Dove is truly an American classic, and should find a spot on your bookshelf soon.
Pick it up for 20 percent off during the month of February at all three Denver-area locations of The Tattered Cover Book Store. Just ask for the Dom and Jane Book Club.