>Larry McMurtry is Texas Gold


Larry McMurtry is Texas Gold
When most of us hear the term “western”, we picture Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or maybe all those Louis Lamar books that take up so much space in the book section at the local supermarket. They’re all fine, but they just can’t compare to the real deal: native-Texan Larry McMurtry’s vivid storytelling.

McMurtry had written other westerns previously, but it wasn’t until his 1986 Pulitzer Prize-winning LONESOME DOVE that he received worldwide recognition. I don’t think any other author has so thoroughly refuted the stereotypes of the American West. McMurtry slices through all the cowboy myths and legends with such skilled grace that we never feel the first cut.

My two favorite male characters of all time come from LONESOME DOVE—Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call (my heroes have always been cowboys). I love that these total opposites are inseparable. Call is the cool Texan—tough as nails, short worded, and rarely showing any emotions other than anger or impatience. He’s a real workaholic, and dismisses anything that isn’t work as silly and unnecessary. Gus is his opposite… a real fun-loving guy (a jokester, philosopher, womanizer, and drinker) who somehow manages to get the job done, too. Though very different, the two are united by the common goal of doing their job well and are fiercely loyal to the task at hand and to their friendship. Reading  the two cowboy’s exchanges—which mostly consist of Call trying to get McCrae to work harder, and McCrae trying to get Call to lighten up and enjoy life more—makes me feel like I’m working right along side them, part of the team. (Do these guys bring out my inner cowgirl? Let’s just say I’m seriously rocking my cowgirl boots today. Don’t believe me? See above picture…;))

Creating great Western sagas with wonderful male characters isn’t all McMurtry does well, though; he has also given us a completely different—but equally memorable—female Texan, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT’s Aurora Greenway. There is so much to Aurora…her many colorful suitors, her sassy housekeeper, and her stubborn daughter, Emma. I am still moved to laughter and to tears by McMurtry’s touchingly honest portrayal of a complicated mother/daughter relationship and by the trials and tribulations of Emma’s marriage, family and health. Aurora’s strength and controlling ways are just a mask for her sensitive soul, as she tries to come to terms with her only daughter’s growing up and growing apart from her. Their relationship is a stunning depiction of mothers and daughters and the story stirs emotions that capture that special bond a parent and child can have.

I guess I’d have to say McMurtry’s real talent is in his ability to fashion believable, lovable, and relatable characters and put them into any setting. Even being a spoiled city-girl, I’ve always been able to identify with his characters. The setting of a McMurtry novel may be synonymous with the Western landscape, but his writing works just as well under the big city lights as it does under a starry Texas sky.

And that ‘Pardner” is why I consider Larry McMurtry as good as Texas Gold!




5 responses to “>Larry McMurtry is Texas Gold

  1. >I love Lonesome Dove – great article Day!

  2. >Thanks Noa! I really do just adore McMurtry's characters! If people have not read the book "Lonesome Dove"…they are missing out on beautiful writing. I wouldn't consider it "western" as much as a form of historical, or even literary fiction…but what do I know?

  3. >Oh Day! Just reading your review has taken me back into that happy place of childhood when I first discovered these wonderful characters. I always loved them all. Call reminds me of my moms boyfriend. He is tough as nails and everyone does what he says but if you discover the truth. Inside he is sensitive and caring. He really has a soft spot.My dear Gus, what else can be said. He is larger than life for sure. His love of everyone, his love of life, the way he sees through Call. It makes me all warm and fuzzy. I have to say that after watching the movie I still can't see Degal in something else without sighing and saying ahhh Gus and feeling all warm fuzzy.Ok I will shut up now, obviously I love the book.

  4. >Day are those *your* stems? *whistles*I've actually never read the book. *blushes* But.. but I have seen the movie! Wonderful article Day!!:)

  5. >;)*tips cowgirl hat to Kitt* Yes'mI should probably point out that the picture was taken by an extremely cool photographer and awesome lady Mary Morrow. She now does family photography through her own business ToMorrow's Memories.(I'll try to find a link if anyone is interested;))

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