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Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry
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Lonesome Dove: A Novel (original 1985; edition 2010)

by Larry McMurtry

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6,1171811,022 (4.55)1 / 780
Member:jandarlene
Title:Lonesome Dove: A Novel
Authors:Larry McMurtry
Info:Simon & Schuster (2010), Edition: Anv Upd, Paperback, 864 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)

  1. 41
    Shane by Jack Schaefer (mcenroeucsb)
  2. 41
    Little Big Man by Thomas Berger (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Western
  3. 20
    The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy (paulkid)
    paulkid: Epic Westerns set in Texas and Mexico, McMurtry is more somber, McCarthy more dark.
  4. 10
    News of the World by Paulette Jiles (Ciruelo)
  5. 21
    The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both have a wonderful, authentic flavor of the old west.
  6. 10
    The New Mexico Trilogy by John Nichols (kraaivrouw)
    kraaivrouw: Much more enjoyable!
  7. 00
    Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (sturlington)
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Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
A reread (after many years) for a readalong with Keishon.

This has long been one of my favorite books, and I was a little apprehensive about rereading it (even though I really wanted to) because I didn't want to discover that it no longer held up. TheHusband reread it a few years ago and loved it all over again, so I was hopeful, but you never know.

I had forgotten how many stories are contained within this novel. The first quarter or so is taken up with establishing the characters and the Lonesome Dove setting. I found this part engaging but I was a little worried, because the women characters felt very stock (Lorena the beautiful whore, Elmira the unlikable one, etc.). The evocation of setting was excellent, though.

Then the cattle drive finally got going, and the book kicked into gear. There is brutal violence as well as unexpected deaths (also some predictable ones), and the switches between uneventful days of cattle driving and sudden disasters can be shocking. McMurtry does them really well. I put the book aside for a while in part because I couldn't take reading what I knew was going to happen. Some of the villains are super-villains, and they're all the worse because they're entirely believable. But I picked the book back up after a few days and I was amply rewarded. As the drive continues northward, as certain characters come to their inevitable ends, and as we finally get to meet Clara, who has loomed over the first half of the story, the novel ratchets up a few notches and becomes a classic. The disparate storylines come together, and McMurtry has some fun along the way, pointing out how many times people run into each other in this vast space, but it makes sense given there aren't many populated places to go. The outfit eventually makes it to Montana and establishes new ranch holdings. It's not without incident and loss, and they run into human, animal, and natural obstacles, but they (mostly) make it.

The stock characters I complained about turn into fully realized people in the second half of the book. If you have the same reaction to the first half that I did, especially where the women are concerned, just hang in there. And the same is true for the non-white characters. They come off a bit stereotyped at first, but they develop the same complexity as the white leading men.

This is not a book for people who can't read about violence or need all of their favorite/beloved characters to survive to the end. I gasped out loud several times and I'm haunted by certain events. But they all make sense within the context of the story. When I first read Lonesome Dove I was sad because this cattle drive represented one of the last of its kind (the whole period was quite short, just like the cowboy era is much shorter than most realize). But this time it made so much sense to me. This book is an elegy to the end of an era for so many people and places: cowboys, Indian dominance over land, open and claimable territory, sod houses, you name it. From microscopic to vast, so many ways of life were about to be made obsolete.

This is a big story told on a huge canvas, but there are many beautifully observed small moments as well. The reader fully enters this world, and I was sad to leave it. I know there are sequels, but I'm not sure I want to read them. I think I'd rather just read this again. ( )
  Sunita_p | May 18, 2019 |
A wild ride through several states, Lonesome Dove is an adventure encompassing many character's motivations, dreams, and disillusions. It's a western, in all its complexity, and it wields a complex portrayal of the people that inhabited it. Extremely intricate, I found it to be an interesting and encompassing read that bordered on brilliance at times. However, I also found it to lag and dither at many parts. Nevertheless, a good achievement and well worth reading. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Apr 4, 2019 |
I finally read this American classic and I loved it. I get why it is as popular as it is - great characters, interesting time period and setting, exciting plot - what's not to like? Well, I didn't love all the violence and I think the relations with Native Americans were certainly oversimplified. And I wished that I personally had more background on the Texas Rangers, as the two main characters had been Rangers and I don't know much about that time period. I gather there are prequels to this novel that cover some of that. For a Western, there were some decent women characters, which is sort of a rarity, so I appreciated that.

I think the greatness here really lies in the characters and the way McMurtry slowly reveals characteristics and relationships throughout the novel. Gus, Call, Lorena, Clara, Newt, Pea Eye, Deets - they are all unforgettable.

I'm betting most have already read this, but if not I definitely recommend it. Don't be put off by the page count - it really does read quickly. ( )
  japaul22 | Mar 28, 2019 |
I would give it 10 stars if I could!

This is one of the best books I've ever read. No wonder it won a Pulitzer!

It was beautifully written. So much so that I felt as if I was transported back into that time period.

I saw the film long before I even knew it was a book and I can say they got the casting right! I could clearly picture every character and they all felt right to me.

It was slow paced, but not in a bad way. It truly told the whole story without a lot of time skips or with the reader having to forgive the author for not giving a better explaination of things. When I started the book, I felt like I already knew the story, but I know I was wrong. NOW I know the story.

As big and epic as the book is, it will find its way to my re-read shelf with The Lord of the Rings, Harty Potter and all the other books that can make me cry.

I'm usually better at reviews, but this book was so fantastic I don't even know what to say about it. It speaks for itself. I cannot wait to read the other books in the series! ( )
  Virago77 | Mar 3, 2019 |
It was appropriate that I used a publicity card for John Sayles' Place In The Sun as a bookmark. Both are engrossing in their illumination of the sum of toil necessary for the suburban ennui we now endure. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 181 (next | show all)
All of Mr. McMurtry's antimythic groundwork -his refusal to glorify the West - works to reinforce the strength of the traditionally mythic parts of ''Lonesome Dove,'' by making it far more credible than the old familiar horse operas. These are real people, and they are still larger than life. The aspects of cowboying that we have found stirring for so long are, inevitably, the aspects that are stirring when given full-dress treatment by a first-rate novelist. Toward the end, through a complicated series of plot twists, Mr. McMurtry tries to show how pathetically inadequate the frontier ethos is when confronted with any facet of life but the frontier; but by that time the reader's emotional response is it does not matter - these men drove cattle to Montana!

added by Stir | editNew York Times, Necholas Lemann (Jun 9, 1985)
 
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Epigraph
All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.
T.K. Whipple, Study Out the Land
Dedication
For Maureen Orth,
and
In memory of
the nine McMurtry boys
(1878-1983)
"Once in the saddle they
Used to go dashing . . ."
First words
When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one.
Fictions - in my case, novels only, to the tune of about thirty - starts in tactile motion; pecking out a few sentences on a typewriter; sentences that might encourage me and perhaps a few potential readers to press on. (Preface)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 067168390X, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Presents a love story and an epic of the frontier, richly authentic that makes readers laugh, weep, dream and remember

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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