I was only willing to read this book because a friend told me I had to When I was thirty pages into it and complaining to him about being unable to handle any discussion about horses and beans, he made me a bet If I got to page 101 out of 900, mind you and I still didn t enjoy it, he d take me out to dinner at any restaurant I wanted in New York City If at page 101 I had warmed up to it, I had to finish I don t think I made it past the 60th page before I knew I had lost the bet.The characters in this story are real than in any other book I ve read I came to absolutely love characters I was so thoroughly annoyed with earlier in the book I feel that the depth of the characters allowed me to do something I can rarely do with the real people I encounter on a daily basis in my life to truly know each and every one of them so fully and so deeply so as to be able to wholly sympathize with them and genuinely understand the motivations behind their actions, no matter how much I might disapprove.I was so engrossed in this book that I had no problem regularly making a fool of myself in public places on the subway, in coffee shops gasping, weeping, and shouting Nuh uh My only criticism of the book is the way in which it plays into classic Western stereotypes, particularly its portrayal of nearly every Native American character as a brutal savage Except for one character s brief mention of well, they didn t invite us on this land, the issues surrounding white settlers effectively stealing the land of another people is not addressed It s something to try to constantly keep in mind for sure, but not something to keep you from reading this fantastic book. Are you looking for the most Western book ever If so, Lonesome Dove better be in your search This was a fantastic epic journey I am glad I took this one slowly over the course of several months so that I could savor it You may look at this and say, Matthew, you took exactly four months to read an 858 page novel That must have been a chore But, it was not Every chapter was a story in itself, every page added to the characters, atmosphere, drama, etc No filler No boring parts Everything in Lonesome Dove is there for a reason and helps to make this one of the best Westerns ever.The Story The American West was not clean The American West was not forgiving This book does not pull any punches when it comes to setting the mood for what life was really like as the American West was settled Cowboys, bandits, whore houses, fur trappers, buffalo hunters, Native Americans, etc all there and not romanticized I think it did a great job of touching on sensitive topics women s role in the old West, Native American treatment, etc and keeping it real without making the reader uncomfortable Those things did happen, so when telling stories about them, it is easy to do it wrong and make a book uncomfortable to read I did not feel that was the case here even when things were at their most shocking in this story.The Characters So many wonderful and interesting characters I love that McMurtry took the time to flesh all of them out and make sure that even some of the minor characters have heart and soul than some of the main characters in other books And, part of what is great about this is how real the characters are they are not written so we think all the good guys are perfect or all the bad guys are bad You soon realize that anything is possible for any character and nothing feels forced to make a point The movement of all the lives together is very organic Needless to say, a very satisfying character study.The Atmosphere You want to feel like you are in the Old West Read this book Period Summary I am sure by now you can tell this book blew me away I would highly recommend it, but it may not be for everyone If you are not a fan of Epics, it is probably not for you If you have a hard time with real, raw, and often not pretty scenes in books, this also may not be for you not quite as bad as Cormac McCarthy in Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, but still pretty intense If you are fans of books like Gone with the Wind by Mitchell or Centennial by Michener and you have not read this book, you must You really, really, really must read this book Larry McMurtry is considered one of America s master story tellers His novels include Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, as well as the screenplay to Brokeback Mountain, which later became award winning films A revered author in Texas, he was invited by former First Lady Laura Bush to be a special guest speaker at the first annual Texas Book Festival It seems fitting that I began his definitive work, Pulitzer winning Lonesome Dove, on his birthday, June 3 A story of Texas Rangers and winning the western frontier, which later encouraged McMurtry to create a tetralogy, Lonesome Dove is considered the foremost work of American western fiction Augustus Gus McCrae and Woodrow F Call ride as Texas Rangers for nearly thirty years, keeping the new state safe from Indians, Mexicans, and ruffians following the completion of the Civil War By the time of the volume s opening, however, Mexicans decided to stay on their side of the Rio Grande and most Indians had cleared out of south Texas, leaving the area to law abiding citizens Even though the two never tired completely of rangering, they founded the Hat Creek Outfit, a stables outside of Lonesome Dove, a settlement close to the Mexican border It is here that McCrae and Call got their team of Rangers back together for one final adventure before they ride off into the sunset Creating a large cast of characters and multiple storylines that eventually meet up, McMurtry creates a western novel that is than the story of cowboys and Indians Former ranger Jake Spoon, a good guy turned outlaw, convinced Call to move thousands of cattle and start the first ranch north of the Milk River in Montana At the time unexplored territory, Call is up for the challenge and assembles a team of cowboys to make the journey north The group, full of colorful personalities, got than they bargained for on the trip Most thought it was to be a journey, get paid, and then return home to Lonesome Dove They did not sign up for river crossings, sandstorms, and skirmishes with Indians and grizzly bears Yet, Call desires to conquer virgin territory and make a name for himself as one of the pioneers of the Montana land grab McCrae signs up for the journey as a last hurrah with his lifelong friend Yet even he gets than he asked for on the trip A carefree persona happy to sit back with a glass of whiskey and a deck of cards, McCrae would rather be outside a saloon in Lonesome Dove than on a two thousand mile journey north Yet, the thought of seeing the love of his life Clara Allen at the midway point of the trek, spurs McCrae to join up Along the way, he saves a whore named Lorena from a vile Indian named Blue Duck and becomes her guardian, only to find himself when he meets with Clara once and for all This story line tugged on my emotions the most as McMurtry weaves multiple characters stories together to form a nexus at Clara s ranch It is here that both the cowboys and their loves must make key decisions that are vital to the duration of the novel McMurtry makes Lonesome Dove than just a story of cowboys by informing his readers of key events that have taken place to change the course of the American west He touches on the plight of the Indians who in the 1870s are still fighting off the cavalry and cowboys for control of the great land grab The army, settlers, and Indians all think that the land belongs to them, setting the stage for epic battle scenes, none as brutal as those involving Blue Duck He also has the cowboys in their dialogue describe how if they are not careful all of the buffalo will be gone soon, so the men enjoy watching and running with the great creatures while they are still able McMurtry also touches on the place of women in society as he describes in detail the characters of Lorena, Clara, and a wandering soul named Elmira All three are limited in choices between marriage and whoring, and in the end Clara desires a brighter future for both Lorena and her two daughters.While I enjoyed the multiple story lines, the place of women, the character studies, and history, the journey from Texas to Montana is what kept me reading this volume At 750 pages in length, the novel is fast reading as I desired to see the resolution of this complex story that McMurtry has created Now that I have completed and left behind Lonesome Dove, I am ready to return again as the writing was captivating and held my attention throughout As I attempt to read through the Pulitzers, I view Lonesome Dove as one of the best I hope to return to the tetralogy at some point, but I would like to savor this 5 star read for awhile first. The account of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana This is a very long novel which is nevertheless always compelling It contains memorable characters whose adventures are narrated in a deceptively straightforward style.What impresses me most about this book is that the fates of the characters are neither cornily predictable nor deliberately surprising The book s great length allows life to happen to them as it happens to all of us We have the leisure to observe them carefully, and we are glad that we have come along for the drive. Hands Down my Favourite Book in 2014First of all the physical the book I see looking up at me from my coffee table It looks worn, well thumbed, well read, pages and cover alike, beginning to curl up, and soiled by use Well that and all the casual I take books with me acquaintances, to the one, they all had to pick it up, look it over It may look well rode, but it still feels soft, warm and pliant in my hand The stars twinkle up at me from the cover and I wish, I wish, I wish it wasn t over I long to go back When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake not a very big one It had probably just been crawling around looking for shade when it ran into the pigs They were having a fine tug of war with it, and its rattling days were over The sow had it by the neck and the shoat by the tail You pigs git Augustus said kicking the shoat Head on down to the creek if you want to eat that snake It was the porch he begrudged them not the snake Pigs on the porch just made things hotter and things were already hot enough He stepped down into the dusty yard and walked around to the springhouse to get his jug The sun was still high, sulled in the sky like a mule, but Augustus had a keen eye for sun, and to his eye the long light from the west had taken on an encouraging slant.And so it begins I have read a number of different reviews many of which discuss how long it took for them to get invested in the story Not so for me, I gotta say that I latched on to Augustus McCrae pretty early on and even though I can feel, quite acutely, Captain Call s presence every time he crosses the page with Hell Bitch, it is Gus s company I seek on this trail Makes sense I guess, I met him first, back in 1876 in Lonesome Dove, Texas It has been quite a journey Make no mistake I spent time with all of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, not just the ex rangers, as they drove their herd out of Texas and across the Great Plains, bound for Montana I pined with Dish, listened to the Irish sing, and the remuda nicker and whinny I ate dust with Newt on the heels of the herd and scouted for water and crossings with Deets I was there for the water moccasins, the grizzlies and the cloud of grasshoppers, not to mention Blue Duck, one of the most frightening, sinister men ever he made the hair on the back of my neck, my arms and everywhere else stand, stock still at attention I seethed at Jake, swam with Pea Eye and felt Lorena s despair way down deep in my bones I am just skimming the surface here, there are others with tales to tell, like July Johnson, the painfully shy sheriff from Arkansas, searching for his wife and Clara, the dark haired beauty with the scorching tongue in Nebraska, who may just sear you with her words.But back at the fire I would curl up and listen to Gus talk, reassured by his very presence, as we have a drink, play a hand or two and prepare to bed down Amid all the words, in all the books, on all of the pages I have ever travelled, never before have I met a man so damn finely crafted, so carefully rendered, so agonizingly authentic as Augustus McCrae It is as though I know him for real Honestly I enjoy his company and even now, miss his conversation Yes, I want to go back Ride one time with the Hat Creek Cattle Company, who don t rent pigs.I god, folks, seriously, what is happening here I do not read westerns Fact is, were I not a member of this wonderful on line community of book lovers, chances are pretty good that I would never have read this book Do not make that mistake and yes, I Thank You one and all This is one of my favoritest books ever In fact, put a gun to my head and tell me chose just one, and it d be better than even money that Lonesome Dove would be what I d name It has the bonus of not only being an incredible book but also having an excellent companion piece in the television mini series based on it that is one of the great all time fusions of print and film I can t read this without hearing the voices of Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Anjelica Huston, Chris Cooper, Danny Glover, Diane Lane and all the rest in my head So every couple of years, I do a rereading of the book and then I break out the DVD of the miniseries and I immerse myself in the perfection that is this storyI didn t know this until I was looking up some stuff on the net for this review, but Lonesome Dove was virtually snubbed at the Emmy Awards War Remembrance beat it out for best mini series It only managed to take best director and a few other technical prizes Worse yet, none of the actors nominated won It s a good thing I never got into any bar wagers about this, or I would have bet my house that Robert Duvall won best actor for a mini series , and when I lost that, I would have bet my car that it had to be Tommy Lee Jones Nope Anjelica Huston and Diane Lane and Danny Glover all lost, too Hey, Emmy voters of 1990 WTF Why do I say the story is perfect Start with the characters Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call are two retired Texas Rangers who run a rinky dink cattle company in a speck of a town called Lonesome Dove on the Texas Mexico border Gus and Call couldn t be unlikely friends Call is a dour workaholic who has spent his life trying to be the perfect leader of men while Gus is a good natured and lazy soul who likes to drink whiskey, play cards and spend time with Lonesome Dove s beautiful but distant whore, Lorena Wood Gus also delights in giving Call grief about young Newt, a boy they took in after the death of his mother Newt s mom was a whore that Call had visited regularly for a short time, and he may be the boy s father but refuses to acknowledge it.Their dull routine is broken when their old friend and fellow ex Ranger Jake Spoon shows up Jake, who is another candidate to be Newt s dad, is looking for a hiding place after accidentally shooting a man in Arkansas, and he fears that the sheriff, July Johnson, will be after him Jake s idle remark about having been to Montana and that it s a cattleman s paradise for the first men to risk the hostile Indians starts a fever in Call He wants to be the first to drive a herd to the Montana territory and start a ranch there.Call soon has started hiring men and stealing Mexican cattle for the drive Gus says that Call is going to get them all killed just to have another adventure in a wild frontier, but he goes along to see his old sweetheart Clara who is living in Nebraska Jake has taken up with Lorena and decides to travel along with the herd, much to Gus s amusement and Call s aggravation The large cast of characters carry their hopes, fears and limitations with them out onto the vast plains of the American Midwest, and the drive turns out to be dangerous in ways they couldn t even imagine.This book has everything that anyone could want in a story It s epic in scale, but relatable through it s shifting point of view through a variety of vivid characters There s intense western action and heart breaking love stories It s incredibly profound and amazingly simple It s hilarious at times but could reduce the toughest man in the world to tears at some points And all of this is set during those last moments when America was still half wild and anyone with the gumption to do so could throw together a herd of cattle and go out into the wilderness to make history or lose their scalp. My introduction to the fiction of Larry McMurtry is Lonesome Dove, consistently ranked as one of the best westerns whether the conversation is print or television Published the year of the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1985 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year, the magnum opus is a magnificent exploration of male friendship, with a dozen supporting characters of both genders who McMurtry could ve dedicated a novella to and often attempts to over 857 pages The bantering becomes a beast of its own and the story padding crosses over into self indulgence, but there s no question that there s a masterful novel in here.Somewhere along the border of Texas and Mexico in the late 1870s lies the town of Lonesome Dove, which consists of little than a dry saloon and a livery stable The stable is operated by two retired Texas Rangers a romantic idler named Augustus McCrae and the taciturn, hard driving Captain Woodrow F Call A two time widower and a bachelor, respectively, the men lead Joshua Deets a black scout from their rangering days , Peaeye Parker an ex ranger who is loyal but none too bright , Newt Dobbs the seventeen year old progeny of a prostitute and in all likelihood, Call and Bolivar an ill tempered cook who enjoys clanging the dinner bell with a crowbar.Having dedicated their prime to eliminating the threat of Comanche Indians or Mexican bandits to Texas, Gus and Call have spent nine years operating the Hat Creek Cattle Company, stabling horses, stealing fresh ones south of the border for sale and little else When he s not drinking whiskey on the porch or jawing, Augustus visits the Dry Bean for a card game or a poke with the town s sporting lady, a cool blonde named Lorena Wood who dreams of traveling to San Francisco, but needs a dependable man to get her there Call, whose favorite pastime is sitting at the river crossing after dinner hoping he might catch a horse thief, hungers for a challenge Call was not a man to daydream that was Gus s department but then it wasn t really daydreaming he did, alone on the little bluff at night It was just thinking back to the years when a man who presumed to stake out a Comanche trail would do well to keep his rifle cocked Yet the fact that he had taken to thinking back annoyed him, too he didn t want to start working over his memories, like an old man Sometimes he would force himself to get up and walk two or three miles up the river and back, just to get the memories out of his head Not until he felt alert again felt that he could still captain if the need arose would he return to Lonesome Dove.The next morning, Deets returns from San Antonio with Jake Spoon, a comrade from their rangering days whose love for ladies and aversion to work has led him to a career as a gambler Jake had overstayed his welcome in Fort Smith, Arkansas when an argument with a mule skinner led to the accidental shooting of the town dentist, brother to the sheriff Jake beats it to Lonesome Dove for the protection of his old friends Lorena falls under the spell of the rogue, wounding the heart of a top cowhand named Dish Boggett who s in love with her, while Call is seduced by Jake s tales of pristine territory he s scouted in Montana, wide open to a ranching operation.Receiving an order for forty horses from a cattleman driving his herd to Nebraska, the men cross into Mexico, where it s Call s mission to steal one hundred horses, buy some cattle and drive them to Montana to make their own fortune Their stolen ponies collide with a herd driven south by horse thieves, multiplying their holdings Call begins hiring hands and convinces Gus who realizes there won t be anyone left to talk to but the pigs to come along on the journey Jake prefers a card game to work or to keeping his promise to take Lorena to San Francisco, but Gus convinces him to accompany her and them as far as Denver, knowing it would satisfy Lorena, entertain himself and infuriate Call.Dangers on the trail include sand storms, stampedes, lightning strikes, nests of water moccasins in a swollen river and a barbarous Comanchero named Blue Duck, who abducts Lorena while Jake is off gambling Rescued by Gus, her recovery is complicated by the discovery that he intends to reunite with an old flame in Nebraska named Clara Allen, the love he never got over Meanwhile, a young sheriff from Fort Smith named July Johnson goes to Texas with his stepson Joe to bring Jake Spoon to justice His hapless deputy Roscoe Brown goes after them once his boss s wife Elmira Boot Johnson promptly vanishes, headed for Nebraska with buffalo hunters to find her first husband The whiskey boat stank, and the men on it stank, but Elmira was not sorry she had taken the passage She had a tiny little cubbyhole among the whiskey casks, with a few planks and some buffalo skins thrown over it to keep the rain out, but she spent most of her time sitting at the rear of the boat, watching the endless flow of brown water Some days were so hot that the air above the water shimmered and the shore become indistinct others days a chill rain blew and she wrapped herself in one of the buffalo robes and kept fairly dry The rain was welcome, for it discouraged the fleas They made her sleep uneasy, but it was a small price to pay for escaping from Fort Smith She had lived where there were fleas before, and worse things than fleas.McMurtry s indulgences with epic storytelling and the tendency of his minor characters to behave like idiots their misplaced devotion leading them on foolhardy quests in pursuit of lovers who want nothing of them seem to go hand in hand I could have done without the July Johnson and Elmira Boot subplots McMurtry s banter as instigated by Gus is often amusing, sometimes profound, but there s too much of it The overkill is balanced by the tremendous appeal of Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, the archetypal visionary and practical man Their company is stocked with archetypes I recognized, co workers who were far from Texas Rangers or even cowboys but exhibited many of the same qualities as Deets, Pea or Jake Spoon.McMurtry s facility with dialogue, character and description all brought to bear on Lonesome Dove In addition to his terrific banter where men debate whether it is pigs or horses who are smarter or work through the great mysteries of women or death I liked how devoted McMurtry was to exploring the relationship between two men Like a marriage, Gus and Call love each other, but are getting fed up I saw quite a bit of myself in the character of Woodrow Call, a gift for an author to pull off As antagonists go, Blue Duck has no equal The period detail is spare but I felt I had an extremely clear proscenium on what the Old West was like as McMurtry took me through it.In 1972 after adapting his novel The Last Picture Show to screen, Larry McMurtry was approached by its director Peter Bogdanovich to script a western for him The Streets of Laredo was envisioned as a deconstruction, with cowboys facing their mortality The conceit was to cast James Stewart, John Wayne and Henry Fonda as Gus, Call and Jake Spoon but Wayne had second thoughts about razing the genre he helped build and the project stalled Twelve years later, McMurtry bought the rights to his script treatment and developed Lonesome Dove Its publishing success spurred an acclaimed four part television mini series on CBS in 1989 with Robert Duvall as Gus, Tommy Lee Jones as Call, Danny Glover as Deets, the enduring Diane Lane as Lorena and Robert Urich as Jake Spoon. A Love Story, An Adventure, And An Epic Of The Frontier, Larry McMurtry S Pulitzer Prize Winning Classic, Lonesome Dove, The Third Book In The Lonesome Dove Tetralogy, Is The Grandest Novel Ever Written About The Last Defiant Wilderness Of AmericaJourney To The Dusty Little Texas Town Of Lonesome Dove And Meet An Unforgettable Assortment Of Heroes And Outlaws, Whores And Ladies, Indians And Settlers Richly Authentic, Beautifully Written, Always Dramatic, Lonesome Dove Is A Book To Make Us Laugh, Weep, Dream, And RememberSeries In Order Of Publication Lonesome Dove Streets Of Laredo Dead Man S Walk Comanche Moon Series In Order Of Internal Chronology Dead Man S Walk Set In The Early SComanche Moon Set In The SLonesome Dove Set In Mid To Late SStreets Of Laredo Set In The Early S I approached Lonesome Dove with some trepidation It s a very, very long novel about cowboys and set in the 1860 s not a literary comfort zone for me Investing a few weeks could have been risky.I needn t have worried however, all the hype for this Pulitzer Prize winning novel is deserved.The plot is full of incident and high excitement, the human stories are emotionally gripping and there is a lovely, wry humour throughout The book is also surprisingly brutal in places Life is often cheap in the early days of the wild west and bloodshed is commonplace, as is the casual sexism and racism of these pre PC times Most of the book concerns a cattle drive, a great, messy, lumbering affair that acts as a backdrop to the lives and loves of the characters As the outfit navigate their way across thousands of inhospitable miles without gps or weather forecasts, they are under constant threat from Indians, bandits and ill health doctors are extremely rare There are many white knuckle adventures along the way and survival is random and unpredictable.The savage, untamed landscape also drives much of the story, as the ramshackle group traverse vast prairies, deserts and mesquite covered scrubland through dust storms, droughts, monsoon like rain, snow and plagues of crickets.What most lingers in the memory though, are the people and their stories, the every day dramas and dreams of the Hat Creek outfit Cal, Gus, Newt, Lorena, Pea Eye and Deets are all characters sharply drawn and fully formed Their strengths and failings, wisdom and fears, become important to the reader Like old friends I felt real affection for them An illusion or cliche certainly, but as the last lurid sunset colours the prairie and I close the book for the last time, I can definitely still hear their voices.Lonesome Dove is an immense and wonderfully sustained piece of writing an epic and unforgettable read. If you read only one western novel in your life, read Lonesome DoveUSA TodayAbove statement seemed a bit too much to me before reading the book but not after reading it.My first time reading a Pulitzer winner and it is truly an epic story in every sense A book that left me happy, sad, angry, and teary at times Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call are two retired rangers who run a cattle company in a small town called Lonesome Dove Whereas Augustus is very talkative Call is the opposite, talking only when it is necessary An odd pair to be friends Everything is going fine and suddenly out of nowhere an old friend, Jake Spoon, makes an appearance out of nowhere Jake Spoon by mistake has murdered a doctor in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and is now wanted for same Jake in his conversation tells Call about how he d been to Montana and its beauty How green it is and there is no one to claim it Call gets all anxious to be to first to claim it and soon he starts his journey from Texas to Montana with some 3000 cattle.I absolutely love the characters in the book McMurtry has done a wonderful job in carving them He has paid an equal attention to primary and secondary characters telling us about their backgrounds and how it effects their present It s such a huge book and so many characters that at first I have a little trouble in remembering all in starting but soon I got addicted to them I laughed with them, I cried with them, felt their pain, indecisiveness, sometimes I hated them for their foolishness but in the end I loved them all This review will be incomplete if I didn t mention my favorite character from the book I think I am not alone in this, as far as I know he is everyone s favorite from the book Augustus McCrae, a non stop talker, someone who can argue on a subject for countless hours Fellow rangers worship him, though not for his talkativeness, but for he is a good man I came to love his truthfulness and boldness He is blunt but also helpful Someone who keep his promises and has a good heart So a request to everyone who has this one on their tbr, please read it asap and if you don t have it on your tbr even then go ahead and read it for this is an awesome read.
Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936 He is the author of twenty nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and than thirty screenplays His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film Hud A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini serie
- 945 pages
- Lonesome Dove
- Larry McMurtry
- 12 January 2019 Larry McMurtry