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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
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Lonesome Dove (original 1985; edition 1990)

by Larry McMurtry

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4,795125968 (4.57)443
Member:gaskella
Title:Lonesome Dove
Authors:Larry McMurtry
Info:Pan Books (1990), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 960 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, TBR, Western

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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)

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Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
To be perfectly honest, I read about a hundred pages and thought this was the most ridiculous book ever and could not understand why any would ever finish all million pages of this horrendously long and boring book. But then I got stuck in a place with no internet and only this book. So I ended up reading another hundred pages, and then before I knew it... I had finished all the gazillion pages. Crazy.

We follow Gus and Call. Two old-timers, but utterly famous in their own right as Texas Rangers. And it's not like they lost their way with horses or guns either. At first, these were the two dullest characters I've read about. Who cares about a drunk, talkative old man who likes to go whoring or a silent commander who only knows duty? Bah, not me.

Well... until we get about two hundred pages in. But then something strange happens. Suddenly these characters come to life and the old wild west becomes an utterly interesting place, rather than just an old cliche with Texas dust and cowboys. I found myself invested in these characters. And even more startling, I found myself invested in the side characters as well - even when more and more of them were introduced.

Lorena, at first a boring side character, quickly becomes someone you love a little because of her strength despite her weakness. Yeah, that sentence didn't really make any sense. But that's kind of how I feel about all the characters. Complex. They all have a quiet motive.

Y'know, there is a saying for writers to never let characters say exactly what they want. Everything they say should be indirectly relevant to their true desire, but what true person would say it aloud so easily? And McMurtry does this so beautifully. Every character has a hidden motive, a desire to be respected, to be loved, to find meaning in duty, to be acknowledged by the crew or maybe just his father, etc. It's so well-written, it really is.

The plot isn't exactly something we care about. Honestly, their end goal of Montana is more of a distant objective and we are mainly just watching the daily lives and interactions of these men and the occasional woman. The book holds a lot of little subplots too, with Jake Spoon and his antics, July Johnson and his companions, Elmira, etc. We get little glimpses of people's lives and it always enhances the book. At first I thought I would hate these characters because they were so small and usually subplots are worthless and boring in other books. But I found myself interested in their lives too. Ah, you see? I can't even talk about the plot without finding myself analyzing the characters again.

I mean, there's plenty of action - and all very well written action to boot. But that isn't why you will finish the book.

Okay. But I also have to say something about the last hundred pages. OMGOSH WHAT JUST HAPPENED. In the last hundred pages, I had to stop myself from throwing all the pillows off my bed in anger and confused disbelief. What the what?!?! I am so freaking shocked. How could he possibly kill off a main character? When Gus died, I was completely taken aback. I knew there were sequels and thought it would just follow Gus and Call around. But ahhhh I really couldn't believe it.

McMurtry writes death so well. He is not scared of killing off characters. But he does so in a way that makes it seem inevitable. It's not a ploy to make the reader sad or to cry. He does it because it's realistic. And the response from the living is so beautifully written. Hidden tears and grief and life just moving on as the cattle keep moving up towards Montana. Nothing but praise for this.

I have nothing but praise for this book, except maybe getting through the first hundred pages. It's worth 4 stars. Maybe higher if you have a soft spot for Western books and cowboys.
Definitely recommended if you're looking for a book to love characters. Or if you're just looking for a good western book. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
To be perfectly honest, I read about a hundred pages and thought this was the most ridiculous book ever and could not understand why any would ever finish all million pages of this horrendously long and boring book. But then I got stuck in a place with no internet and only this book. So I ended up reading another hundred pages, and then before I knew it... I had finished all the gazillion pages. Crazy.

We follow Gus and Call. Two old-timers, but utterly famous in their own right as Texas Rangers. And it's not like they lost their way with horses or guns either. At first, these were the two dullest characters I've read about. Who cares about a drunk, talkative old man who likes to go whoring or a silent commander who only knows duty? Bah, not me.

Well... until we get about two hundred pages in. But then something strange happens. Suddenly these characters come to life and the old wild west becomes an utterly interesting place, rather than just an old cliche with Texas dust and cowboys. I found myself invested in these characters. And even more startling, I found myself invested in the side characters as well - even when more and more of them were introduced.

Lorena, at first a boring side character, quickly becomes someone you love a little because of her strength despite her weakness. Yeah, that sentence didn't really make any sense. But that's kind of how I feel about all the characters. Complex. They all have a quiet motive.

Y'know, there is a saying for writers to never let characters say exactly what they want. Everything they say should be indirectly relevant to their true desire, but what true person would say it aloud so easily? And McMurtry does this so beautifully. Every character has a hidden motive, a desire to be respected, to be loved, to find meaning in duty, to be acknowledged by the crew or maybe just his father, etc. It's so well-written, it really is.

The plot isn't exactly something we care about. Honestly, their end goal of Montana is more of a distant objective and we are mainly just watching the daily lives and interactions of these men and the occasional woman. The book holds a lot of little subplots too, with Jake Spoon and his antics, July Johnson and his companions, Elmira, etc. We get little glimpses of people's lives and it always enhances the book. At first I thought I would hate these characters because they were so small and usually subplots are worthless and boring in other books. But I found myself interested in their lives too. Ah, you see? I can't even talk about the plot without finding myself analyzing the characters again.

I mean, there's plenty of action - and all very well written action to boot. But that isn't why you will finish the book.

Okay. But I also have to say something about the last hundred pages. OMGOSH WHAT JUST HAPPENED. In the last hundred pages, I had to stop myself from throwing all the pillows off my bed in anger and confused disbelief. What the what?!?! I am so freaking shocked. How could he possibly kill off a main character? When Gus died, I was completely taken aback. I knew there were sequels and thought it would just follow Gus and Call around. But ahhhh I really couldn't believe it.

McMurtry writes death so well. He is not scared of killing off characters. But he does so in a way that makes it seem inevitable. It's not a ploy to make the reader sad or to cry. He does it because it's realistic. And the response from the living is so beautifully written. Hidden tears and grief and life just moving on as the cattle keep moving up towards Montana. Nothing but praise for this.

I have nothing but praise for this book, except maybe getting through the first hundred pages. It's worth 4 stars. Maybe higher if you have a soft spot for Western books and cowboys.
Definitely recommended if you're looking for a book to love characters. Or if you're just looking for a good western book. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
It's been at least 10 years since I read it, so I can't review it properly. I can say that I still remember parts of it quite clearly & the characterization was excellent. It seemed to me to represent the real Old West much better than most westerns. I'm not an expert, but I did spend some time on a ranch working with cattle & grew up with both horses & cattle. The writing & plot are both simple, gritty & so realistic that almost everything McMurtry writes makes sense at a visceral level. There is one exception but it is a myth that so many people believe & it was so horrific & well done that I have no problem with it. I speak, of course, about the snake scene.

( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Fifth reread of summer ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
Fifth reread of summer ( )
  abbeyhar | Jul 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:54 -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 10 descriptions

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