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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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4,948128927 (4.56)512
Member:gaskella
Title:Lonesome Dove
Authors:Larry McMurtry
Info:Pan Books (1990), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 960 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Fiction, TBR, Western

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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (1985)

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Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
A great sprawling epic western novel. Starting in a slow manner at the sparse home ranch of Lonesome Dove close to the Mexican border and the Rio Grande to build up the wonderfully realised cast of characters, this story of a cattle drive from Texas up to Montana, with all the events and misfortunes, is a great read. ( )
  CarltonC | Mar 21, 2015 |
One of the best books I have ever read. Funny and heartbreaking. ( )
  Janethawn | Feb 2, 2015 |
It took me a few chapters to settle into Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry and get used to the dialogue. I knew it was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and could see right away that the prose was exemplary. It's very lengthy at 960 pages and yet, I didn't feel it was a long read.

The story itself is a simple one about a group of cowboys, headed by two former Texas Rangers, on a 3000 mile cattle drive from Texas to Montana. But it isn't just a story about the expected trials and travails encountered along the way, Lonesome Dove is about the complicated relationships between the two primary, and the many secondary, characters. The tale unravels at a very steady pace which allows the reader time to absorb all the exquisite details of the landscape, towns and life on the Frontier and the riveting dramatic highs and lows.

The large cast of characters, some who flow in and out of the narrative, are brilliantly portrayed. With their individual strengths, frailties and peculiarities so well defined, it's easy to keep track of them all. The author has an uncanny knack of writing distinct dialogue, with humour, sarcasm, hope, fear, resentment, anger, regret, longing and love, all equally well expressed.

McMurtry lures us into complacency as he sets up the story, introduces the characters and the story begins to unfold. When the drama arrives, it's hard-hitting and gut-wrenching, Death is always near.

The cowboys' skills, courage to overcome their fears and endurance of the weather and endless days and nights in the saddle on the cattle drive is striking.

The author has the amazing talent of creating heart rending insights into the mental states of his characters. We see the petty jealousies between the men and how irritated with and intolerant of each other they become as their enforced time together on the trail lengthens. The story centers on the unspoken emotions and thoughts of the characters, Clara being the exception. She's used to speaking her mind and likes an argument as much as Gus does. The excessive anxiety and runaway thoughts which result in obsessiveness debunks the myth of the strong silent cowboy. Our cowboys are fragile and silent for the most part.

The few female figures are complex, independent and damaged. I was surprised by the depth of their bitterness and how adversarial they were towards the males. Most of the men come off badly, Gus less so because he genuinely knows and likes women. As my favourite figure, Gus McRae will be a character I remember for a long time. I love his wit, honesty, wisdom and audacity and that he's as flawed a man as there ever was.

I found myself disappearing into McMurtry's world and often replayed scenes as I fell asleep. Lonesome Dove will be one epic of the Old West that stays with me for quite a while. ( )
2 vote Zumbanista | Jan 10, 2015 |
The most enjoyable book I've ever read. I had no idea I would like this so much.

The trouble is that now I've read this, I suspect the other Larry McMurtry books will fall somewhat short, and I should have by rights read those first. I've noticed looking at reviews here on Goodreads that McMurtry books tend to get five stars... unless the reader has read Lonesome Dove first, in which case, 'well, it's not Lonesome Dove.'

I've decided to read a whole heap of American historical fiction until I get totally sick of it. Let it be on record that this is the book that kicked it off. ( )
  LynleyS | Jan 5, 2015 |
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. ( )
1 vote NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (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 . . ."
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When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one.
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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)

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

(summary from another edition)

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