Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty

Larry McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas. His novels include Horseman, Pass By (1962), The Last Picture Show (1966) and Terms of Endearment (1975), which were adapted into films earning 26 Academy Award nominations. This 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove was adapted into a television mini-series that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations. McMurtry also adapted the screenplay for the highly praised film Brokeback Mountain (2005).

Lonesome Dove (1985) is constructed around a cattle drive. It is an epic journey from dry, hard-drinking south Texas to the last outpost and the last days of the old, unsettled West in Montana. Set in the 1880s it revolves around a band of retired Texas Rangers. The characters are larger than life and shimmer: Captain Woodrow Call, who leads the drive, is the American type of an unrelentingly righteous man whose values are puritanical and pioneering and whose orders lead his men to their deaths; talkative Gus McCrae, Call’s best friend, learned, lenient, almost magically skilled in a crisis, who is one of those who dies; Newt, the unacknowledged 17-year-old son of Captain Call’s one period of self-indulgence and the inheritor of what will become a new and kinder West; and whores, drivers, misplaced sheriffs and scattered settlers, all of whom are drawn sharply, engagingly, movingly. As the rag-tag band drives the cattle 3,000 miles northward, only Call fails to learn that his quest to conquer more new territories in the West is futile – it’s a quest that perishes as men are killed by natural menaces that soon will be tamed and by half-starved renegades who soon will die at the hands of those less heroic than themselves. McMurtry shows that it is a quest misplaced in history, in a landscape that is bare of buffalo but still mythic; and it is only one of McMurtry’s major accomplishments that he does it without forfeiting a grain of the characters’ sympathetic power or of the book’s considerable suspense. Stately and sprawling, this is a novel, at 848 pages, which obviously demands commitment in time. For those who wish to be absorbed in the world it describes (of the wild West in America), there is no better read.

The 1989 TV mini-series starred Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, and Angelica Huston (Cf. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096639/?ref_=nv_sr_1)

Available on DVD at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dvd/dp/B0010VEDDS/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1448118039&sr=1-1&keywords=lonesome+dove

For the novel enquire at your local library or consult  http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lonesome%20dove&sprefix=lonesome+dove%2Caps%2C525  for full bibliographic detail.

848 pages in Pan paperback

First published 1985

ISBN  978-1447203056

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Larry McMurtry

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