Lonesome Dove: A Novel Paperback – Jun 15 2010
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Larry McMurtry, in books like The Last Picture Show, has depicted the modern degeneration of the myth of the American West. The subject of Lonesome Dove, cowboys herding cattle on a great trail-drive, seems like the very stuff of that cliched myth, but McMurtry bravely tackles the task of creating meaningful literature out of it. At first the novel seems the kind of anti-mythic, anti-heroic story one might expect: the main protagonists are a drunken and inarticulate pair of former Texas Rangers turned horse rustlers. Yet when the trail begins, the story picks up an energy and a drive that makes heroes of these men. Their mission may be historically insignificant, or pointless--McMurtry is smart enough to address both possibilities--but there is an undoubted valor in their lives. The result is a historically aware, intelligent, romantic novel of the mythic west that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
“If you read only one western novel in your life, read Lonesome Dove.”—USA Today
“Everything about Lonesome Dove feels true . . . These are real people, and they are still larger than life.”—Nicholas Lemann, The New York Times Book Review
“Lonesome Dove is Larry McMurtry’s loftiest novel."—Los Angeles Times
"A marvelous novel . . . moves with joyous energy . . . amply imagined and crisply, lovingly written. I haven't enjoyed a book more this year . . . a joyous epic."--Newsweek
"The finest novel that McMurtry has yet accomplished . . . Lonesome Dove has all the action anyone could possibly imagine . . . [and] both in general and in details, the authority of exact authenticity . . . superb."--Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
Is it wrong to go south of the border to steal a herd of horses with your partners? Maybe it's no big deal if you are working together to steal them from unknown Mexicans--even if you have to shoot one or two in the process. What if you help steal some of the same horses from the rancher you sold them to because you can't stand up to an outlaw with a gun at your back? Your friends show up again and help you out of this situation. Sort of. And you accept the justice and mercy of their rope. It all could have been so different.
There is a great deal of pain in this book. Maybe they all should have just stayed in Texas. Why do so many people miss their happiness after coming so close to it?
No in media res foolishness for McMurtry, the technique here is to fire up a half-dozen parallel story lines and move from one to another every few pages to keep the reader from losing interest in any one of them (102 chapters). With all of them ending up in Ogallala Nebraska with everybody conveniently widowed at precisely the right moment to seem to ensure a happy ending; but the apogee is still to come at that point and enough loose ends are left to provide for a sequel.
A sequel!?? At 945 paperback pages it's a lot of reading and you have to get through most of it before you're ready to agree that the Pulitzer folks were right in their judgment. But if you have the stamina the story will carry you happily from Lonesome Dove (a flyspeck town in south Texas) on a cattle drive to Montana, with numerous stops, characters and adventures along the way. The Pulitzer was deserved.
Heroic men on horseback, evil drunken murderers fit only for the hanging they eventually get, beautiful compassionate women, Indians good bad and pitiful, whores, card sharps, innocent young cowpokes, the US Cavalry, grizzly bears, bad whiskey, big skies, dangerous rivers; you've got 'em all: Festus, Doc, Kitty, Matt, Roy, Dale, Trigger, Tonto, John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan. Maybe a little Mel Brooks, too; a bit before Butch Cassidy's time.
The story centers around two Texas Rangers who are past their prime Rangering years.Read more ›
Beyond that it falls short. I picked this book up looking for an enjoyable genre western to read, or alternatively, something to that had taken the western genre and done something interesting or novel with it. What I found was a book where the author had taken the western genre and turned it into a romance novel. To me, that wasn't interesting.
It's hard to explain why I didn't like this book without using plot spoilers, because what I primarily didn't like was the structure of the plot, but I'll try.
To begin with, it wasn't a "western" in the sense of, say, Shane or The Virginian. I can't really explain why without going into detailed plot spoilers, but just as one example, there are probably 6 pages of "action" in the entire book; in contrast, it seems like every male character has at least one scene where they go off by themselves and have a good cry. If you're looking for a "classic western," look elsewhere.
Secondly, what it actually *is*, is a romance novel. The story largely revolves around, and is driven by, the romantic hopes and desires of the female 'whore with a heart of gold" character. The cattle drive that provides the putative subject of the book is merely a backdrop against which her story plays out. If that interests you, you'll like the book. If it doesn't, you won't.
Thirdly, while the two lead male characters are very well drawn, the remainder fall significantly short. As other reviewers have mentioned, it would be hard for the character of "deets" to be more stereotypical (Do a websearch for Spike Lee's comments on "magical" black stereotyping and you'll have a 100% spot-on depiction of this character).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Really enjoyed this. I am not much on westerns but a friend recommended and it was enjoyable!Published 3 months ago by Kevin
This is about the sixth time I have read Lonesome Dove, and it is still the book I would most like to have with me should I ever be marooned on a deserted island.Published 5 months ago by Faye cook
Would love to have a wall poster/print for my Western room from this movie. Westerns are my favourite. Haven't finished the book yet but am looking forward to getting back to it. Read morePublished on April 6 2013 by A Kingston
I know that's a lot to say, but this has to be my favourite book. The characters are so well drawn, so memorable, they have been in my mind for over 25 years. Read morePublished on March 8 2013 by kinmikey
This is one of my favourite books. There are so many characters and yet it's never confusing. You fall for every one of them and when you finally finish this cowboy epic you are... Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2008 by Shara Cooper
I recently reread "Lonesome Dove" It was like comming back to an old friend. I read this classic of American literature 20 years ago, and I found it just as enjoyable the second... Read morePublished on Dec 1 2007 by Jason Webster
This book actually transported me to the old west. I savoured every detail of the period, right down to the simple language the characters spoke to one another. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 2007 by Neil Lane