I am having what I will remember forever as “the summer of ‘Lonesome Dove’ by Larry McMurtry.”
It started out as a dare from my hubby. “I bet you cannot read this 800-plus page book in two weeks,” he said.
I smirked. My mind calculated 50 pages a night plus an extra 25 pages a weekend and I could knock this title out in less than two weeks. No problem. Well, I am currently on page 608, and I started mid-June.
I wanted to write about “Lonesome Dove” last week, but two things held me back. First, it is almost 30 years old. Published in 1985, I am officially the last person to have read this Pulitzer Prize winner. Second, I do not necessarily like writing about books that I love. It is in some weird way an invasion of my privacy. Must you know everything I read and enjoy? Can I not keep back a couple of my treasures?
With 32 novels penned, 77-year-old McMurtry will forever be the author of “Lonesome Dove.” Forget “Terms of Endearment” and his Oscar winning screenwriter award for, “Brokeback Mountain.” McMurtry created a one-of-a-kind character in Augustus “Gus” McCrae that will haunt the dreams of unborn readers centuries from now.
I have good news! McMurtry has written another cowboy book titled “The Last Kind Words Saloon.” It is his version of the 30-second fight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. The story is from the good guys’ (Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday) point of view.
I gained this information from an interview in the May/June 2014 Mother Jones magazine. The funny thing. The interviewer asks about four questions of McMurtry’s new book at the beginning of their talk and then jumps to a slew of questions about “Lonesome Dove” and his Texas life.
McMurtry states, “One of the reasons I wrote ‘Lonesome Dove’ was to try to understand my father. My father’s reaction to the hardships his mother endured marked him for life. They left Missouri and came to our family home. There was nothing there when they arrived, but there was a stream. My father saw his mother carry bucket after bucket after bucket of water up from that stream to the house. She had 12 children. It made him intolerant of my mother, because she was not as competent as his mother.”
My summer of “Lonesome Dove” continues for a couple more weeks. A friend has promised I can watch her DVD of the series after I finish the book. And, you can bet, I will finish it.
Maggie Moran is director of learning resources for Northwest Community College