I've discussed the fact that I'm a Larry McMurtry fan before. Lonesome Dove has to be one of the greatest American novels. He's written many other excellent novels: Leaving Cheyenne, Horseman, Pass By (his first and second) for example. Two books written with Diana Ossana, Zeke and Ned, and Pretty Boy Floyd, are wonderfully haunting. He's written a few lame novels too: I just plain didn't like Cadillac Jack, I've posted my fair to middlin' review of Texasville in the recent reads section, and I couldn't even finish Sin Killer, I just never got into it. He's published twenty seven novels in all(!) so I guess he can be forgiven a few clunkers.
But what got me hooked on Larry Mac was his nonfiction, of which he's written more than his share. The first I read was called Roads which was ostensibly, but not really, about driving on interstates. Another, which he wrote in his sixtieth year, was Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen in which he discusses philosophy over lime Dr. Pepper (never had a lime Dr. Pepper? McMurtry will tell you how to get one in the book).
Well, he's got a new book out called The Colonel and Little Missie. It's a meditation on the concept of superstardom, which he believes had it's birth with the fame of Buffalo Bill Cody and Little Annie Oakley. I noticed it in the window of a (closed) bookstore in North East, Maryland a couple of weeks ago when we were on vacation. Upon arriving back home I requested it from the fine Chester County Public library system.
He's explored the Buffalo Bill/Annie Oakley landscape before, in his novel Buffalo Girls. In that book, though it was fictionalized, he stuck basically to history for the outline. What I like about his nonfiction books is his habit of throwing in a lot of his own story, something he can't do in any obvious way in a novel. A lovely example of his spare and self-reflective prose style is found in Crazy Horse, a little biography he wrote for the Penguin Lives series. Definitely a worthwhile read for anyone interested in western history. I think it ranks with Evan S. Connell's classic, Son of the Morning Star:Custer and the Little Big Horn.
So I've got some McMurtry now, I'm good. Let you know what I think when I'm done.
Jannotti tag: books
Posted to: books