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The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry

The Last Picture Show (original 1966; edition 1966)

by Larry McMurtry

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1,274286,186 (3.93)101
Title:The Last Picture Show
Authors:Larry McMurtry
Info:The Dial Press (1966), Edition: First Printing, Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Favorites, Read

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The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry (1966)

  1. 00
    Empire Falls by Richard Russo (browner56)
    browner56: Although separated by half a century and half the country, Thalia, Texas and Empire Falls, Maine could be the same dreary and decaying small town.

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A heartbreaker! ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
A heartbreaker! ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
A heartbreaker! ( )
  lucybrown | Sep 27, 2015 |
A coming-of-age story about a boy's last year of high school in a dying Texas town.

I saw the movie version of this a couple of times before reading the book, and my overall impression was that it was one of the most novelistic movies I'd ever seen. Ironically, I think I liked the movie better than than the book, mainly due to the terrific acting, which brings a lot of depth to these characters. McMurtry's writing style flattens the characters, making it hard for us to really care about them. They are just so beaten down and have so little to look forward to. As with the movie, the character I understand most is Ruth Popper, but I just wish that when she gets angry, she would stay angry. McMurtry is a good writer, and he really does make the bleakness of this pathetic town seem real. It's a good read, but a terribly depressing one, without the power of Lonesome Dove. See the movie, though. ( )
  sturlington | Sep 22, 2015 |
The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry Finished 8/9/15

[The Last Picture Show] is a coming of age story set in a dreary, fading Texas town. The novel follows three teenagers—Sonny, Duane, and Jacy—as they complete high school and prepare…to…well, what? None of them really knows. As the story begins, the two boys are already free of parental oversight (and guidance).

Frank Crawford, Sonny's father, was the high school principal until an auto accident killed his wife and severely injured him. Strung out on prescription pain-killers, unable to return to the school, he's getting by running a domino parlor in the town. Duane's father was killed in an oil rig mishap; his mother lives in a two-room house, caring for her ailing mother, struggling to get by.

Sonny and Duane are living at a rooming house and typically avoid their surviving parents. Both have parttime jobs, Duane as a roughneck, Sonny delivering propane (for a dealer named Fartley). Together they bought an old pickup so they can get around. As the story begins, both have girlfriends, both have raging hormones. Sonny's dating Charlene, a dull, priggish, lumpen classmate. Duane dates Jacy, the spoiled rich girl; Duane expects to marry Jacy after graduation, and that's his only plan, his only topic of thought for the future.

After Sonny breaks up with Charlene, he mopes into the town's all-night café. The night waitress, Genevieve, asks him why he's blue. "There ain't nobody to go with in this town," he says. "Jacy's the only pretty girl in high school, and Duane's got her." To which Genevieve replies: "I'd call that his tough luck. She'll bring him more misery than she'll ever be worth. She's just like her grand¬mother. Besides, I doubt Lois and Gene want her marrying a poor boy."

Lois, Jacy's mother, doesn't much care, she says, but of course she's not taken with Duane. She advises Jacy that "…life is very monotonous. Things happen the same way over and over again….Everything gets old if you do it often enough. I don't particularly care who you marry, but if you want to find out about monotony real quick, just marry Duane."

Lois knows. Though hardly a romantic, her husband Gene provides a very comfortable life. A role model Lois is not; she's a hard drinker and, while she is picky, she sleeps around.

As the story plays on, Jacy does indeed churn a lot of tough luck, for herself as well as Sonny and Duane. Swept into the summer shenanigans—nude pool parties prominent among them—of wealthy, privileged teens in a nearby town, she dumps Duane. But the boy she has her eye on, abruptly marries a rival. She needs attention and will go to extremes to get it.

An upbeat story it is not. Virtually everyone in town is spiritless, struggling, beaten down, enervated, despairing. There are few available jobs of any kind, and certainly no "better jobs." Those that can get away have already done so. Those left behind, like the town, have nothing to look forward to.

Interestingly, McMurty dedicated the book "lovingly…to my home town" (Archer City). That may drip with irony, but McMurty has remained an Archer City resident. Yes, there's a lot to dislike in The Last Picture Show.. Yes, it's often crude, some of the characters are despicable, some are just losers. But it's true to life and well told. I finished the book about six weeks ago, and I still like it.
  weird_O | Sep 21, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larry McMurtryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hilling, SimonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"The Last Picture Show" is lovingly dedicated to my home town.
First words
Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town.
Frank Crawford was not only the town's only drug addict, but he was the one with the best excuse: he had been high-school principal in Thalia, until his car wreck.
"Because life's too damn hard here," Lois said. "The land's got too much power over you. Being rich here is a good way to go insane. Everything's flat and empty and there's nothing to do but spend money."
The only really important thing I cam in to tell you was that life is very monotonous. Things happen the same way over and over again. I think it's more monotonous in this part of the country than it is in other places, but I don't really know that--it may be monotonous everywhere.
"Ruth had rather be sick than do anything. I could have bought a new deer rifle with what she's spent on pills just this last year, and I wish I had, by God. A good gun beats a woman any day."
One you got rich you'd have to spend all your time staying rich, and that's hard thankless work.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684853868, Paperback)

In The Last Picture Show Larry McMurtry introduced characters who would show up again in later novels, Texasville and Duane's Depressed. This first volume of the trilogy drops the reader into the one-stoplight town of Thalia, Texas, where Duane Moore, his buddy Sonny, and his girlfriend Jacy are all stumbling along the rocky road to adulthood. Duane wants nothing more than to marry Jacy; Sonny wants what Duane has; and Jacy wants to get the hell out of Thalia any way she can. This is not a novel of big ideas or defining moments; over the course of a year Duane and Jacy make up and break up, Sonny begins an affair with his high-school football coach's wife, and the only movie house in town closes its doors forever. Yet it is out of these small-town experiences--a nude swimming party in Wichita, a failed sexual encounter during a senior trip, a botched elopement, an enlistment--that McMurtry builds his tale and reveals his characters' hearts. No epiphanies here, just a lot of hard-won experience that leaves none of his protagonists particularly wiser, though they're all a little sadder by the end. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -0400)

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The youth of a small town in mid-twentieth-century Texas search for ways to escape boredom and experience life and love.

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