Sunday, August 02, 2009

Larry McMurtry's Last Hurrah?

Larry McMurtry's latest novel, Rhino Ranch, due to hit bookstore shelves on August 11, may just turn out to be the answer to a Larry McMurtry trivia question because Mr. McMurtry is indicating that it will be his last.

According to the Dallas Morning News, McMurty made remarks during a recent visit to his old home town of Archer City, Texas, that strongly hint that his days of fiction writing are behind him:
"It's a finite gift, for sure," he says of novel writing. "I'm about at the end of it. I can write certain things. I don't think I can write fiction any more. I think I've used it up over 30 novels. That's a lot of novels."
"Most great novels are written by people between 40 and 60, or 35 and 60," he says. "Not too many great novels are written by people over 75. Hardly any. Maybe Tolstoy."

Rhino Ranch represents a first for McMurtry, whose tetralogies include the powerful series that spans Moving On, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, Terms of Endearment and The Evening Star. (He also has written a Lonesome Dove tetralogy.)

Rhino Ranch concludes his only quintet, the other four volumes being The Last Picture Show, Texasville, Duane's Depressed and When the Light Goes.
The article also delves into McMurtry's huge book collection and the bookstore he opened in Archer City. Take a look at the whole article for much more detail on that interesting aspect of the author's life but one section did jump out at me because of its tone:
McMurtry claims to have not a single customer from Archer City and says his fellow citizens would prefer to see Booked Up packed up and gone. "They hate them," he says. "They're very uneasy about those books. They're not comfortable with all that knowledge being around."

His hometown, to which The Last Picture Show was "lovingly dedicated," hasn't changed much over the years. He calls it "a mean little oil-patch town, not welcoming to outsiders."
It is impossible to tell, of course, whether McMurtry said this with a smile on his face and was making a little "inside" joke or if he might be feeling that it really is impossible to go home again. I hope he's not becoming bitter and depressed about a perceived lack of appreciation from the townspeople for his efforts to do something for Archer City.

McMurtry, as the article goes on to say, is also convinced that newly published physical books will become a thing of the past within another generation, a prediction that has to bother any book lover, especially one who owns more than 300,000 of them.

I can't help but find this whole interview to be one of the saddest ones I've read in a while. The real truth of the interview seems to be "between the lines,"something I didn't realize on my first reading of the quotes. A second time through the article, though, left me with the feeling that McMurtry is perhaps more than a little depressed about his stage of life, something I can understand but really hate to see in a man I've admired for so many years. I hope I'm wrong.


  1. I'm pleased to see there will be a new McMurtry novel, but you're right -- his frame of mind isn't good.

  2. I just read "Sliver Of Truth" by Lisa Unger and she is by far the single most captivating author I've read this year. I couldn't put the book down and I'm currently en route to findind more of her work to entertain myself for the remainder of the year.

  3. He's been headed in that direction for a while, Suzi. That's what bothers first, I thought he was joking; now I think he's depressed,

  4. Cool, Meggan...but did you really mean to post that comment here?