Larry McMurtry – Lonesome Dove

Lonesome DoveI don’t have much to say about this book. I could not muster any sentimental feelings at any point during this way too long book. Drew and I talked a great deal while reading this one and sometimes that shades your view of the work, but this time I had my own opinion which was to be thoroughly unimpressed and most often perplexed by this novel. Now, I say perplexed not for anything that the writer did, but more of why did this novel win the Pulitzer prize for fiction? I didn’t think that this was a bad novel. By any stretch of the imagination this novel made sense. All of the sentences linked together to form paragraphs, the paragraphs were grouped together to form chapters that led to a consistent theme and for predictable but more often than not well-rounded characters. There was plenty of conflict, and there moments when I wanted to see something happen to this or that character or to see a situation resolve itself. So all of that combines to not thinking that this was below average writing, but at the close of this work I couldn’t help but think that this was just one in a long line of genre fiction that McMurtry has churned out an a stagger pace and with an inconceivable amount of words. But I think that is my point, I don’t know why they picked this novel. I appreciated the characters and some of them were memorable and some were forgettable. I like to think Gus McCrae was worth following, I don’t know about 900 pages of following, but at the end of the day, I was just confused. This is an pretty good novel. I wasn’t staggered by its beauty or writing.

If anything it was the most underwritten thing I have ever read. McMurtry placed you in very interesting and poetic situations which I appreciated, but when it came to really capturing your heart McMurtry backed off and did nothing, let the moment fall flat and I didn’t understand why he did it. Then he made things happen that were so counter-intuitive of a genre fiction Western, where he made a difficult and complicated ending out of a predictable, very conventional novel. McMurtry isn’t a terrible writer. I might even be inclined to say that he is an above average writer that can tell a story. McMurtry even did so well for me to think that I actually have given some more attention to the American Cowboy as a very potent story in American history rife with plot and conflict and beauty. Whatever the case, McMurtry won for a novel I wouldn’t have readily picked. If I had been asked to read this novel outside of this conflict, I wouldn’t have finished it. If I had finished it, I would have felt ambivalent about it. If asked to discuss it, I would simply shrug to the person who recommended it, and ask them why. So to the Pulitzer committee of 1986 – Why Lonesome Dove? Any reason is fine, and I am not entirely mad about your pick, it was just a very perplexing book.


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