Thursday, April 24, 2008
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By Larry McMurtry, 1985, from the library
You should know
I've never seen any of the Lonesome Dove miniseries or movies. I think I'd like to, though.
This Western novel opens at the Hat Creek Cattle Company and Livery Emporium, run by former Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call, with their hands and fellow Rangers Joshua Deets and Pea Eye Parker, plus Newt Dobbs, a 17-year-old boy of indeterminate paternity who has been raised on the ranch since the death of his mother.
Life on the ranch is tough but relatively quiet, full of hard work, whiskey, and frequent trips to the nearby town of Lonesome Dove, the home of Lorraine, the town's beloved prostitute.
But the quiet is broken when Jake Spoon, an old friend of Call and Gus, comes back to town with stories of the unsettled northern territories. Call wants to go and settle the first ranch in Montana. Gus wants to track down his old sweetheart, who settled in the North. Lorraine falls in love with Jake, and Newt begins to suspect that Jake might be his father. The men of Hat Creek round up cattle and hands for the journey, and leave Texas, most of them permanently.
So the group heads north, meeting American Indians, cattle thieves, traders, soldiers, and a completely bewildered sheriff. They also face quite a bit of death, and a terrifying showdown with a bear.
McMurtry won a Pulitzer for this book, so if my description sounds even remotely interesting, you should consider reading it. I'm not into Westerns, but I really enjoyed it.
This book was excellent, and despite being pretty long, it was a fast read. I highly recommend it.
The rest of the Internet
The Wikipedia and LibraryThing pages.
Amy Coffin at The Book Haven enjoyed, but was exhausted by, the book.
Keetha at Write Kudzu waxes enthusiastic about the book.
A blogger is coverted from a "no-Westerns" policy by the book at Bend the Round.
Bonnie at Fourth-Rate Reader was constantly surprised by the directions the narrative took.
Jim Schmaltz at Memory Almost Full is impressed by the sheer number of complex, fleshed-out characters.