Lonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry


Why Lonesome Dove and Guadalupe Peak

I think Larry McMurtry is probably the greatest Texas writer ever. McMurtry has been prolific and written over 30 novels, including the iconic The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove, which are all as excellent as movies/mini-series as they are books.  McMurtry also won an Oscar for his co-adaptation of Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain which was the 52 Peaks book selection for The Grand Teton in Wyoming.

Lonesome Dove is my favorite book set in Texas of all time. It’s one of my ten favorite novels. One of the best memories I have was in watching the mini-series with my Grandma Luckie when I was in college. Therefore, I dedicate this book selection to her.

I also adore that McMurtry is an avid reader and book collection. About fifteen years ago, I drove to Archer City, Texas (where he lives) to visit his book store, which at that time took up almost the entire main street. Strolling through the endless shelves of books, I came across McMurtry stacking books in a back corner. I pleaded with him to sign my first edition of Lonesome Dove and after a little convincing he made an exception to his no signing rule. His bookstore was a treasure hunt for collectors. Mixed in with all the other books I found a first edition of Capote’s In Cold Blood and Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.

Lonesome Dove is epic in length, but easy to read. The characters, such as Gus McCrae, Woodrow Call, and Lorie Darling are unforgettable. If this book does not make you cry, nothing will. But the tears are worth the journey with these characters.

More About Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove is a 1985 western novel written by Larry McMurtry. It is the first published book of the Lonesome Dove series, but the third installment in the series chronologically. The story focuses on the relationship of several retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana.

McMurtry originally developed the tale in 1972 for a feature film entitled The Streets of Laredo (a title later used for the sequel), which would have been directed by Peter Bogdanovich and would have starred James Stewart as Augustus McCrae, John Wayne as W.F. Call, and Henry Fonda as Jake Spoon. But plans fell through when Wayne turned it down, leading Stewart to back out, and the project was eventually shelved. Ten years later McMurtry resurrected the 75-page screenplay by purchasing it from the studio who owned it, then expanded it into a full-length novel, which became a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

After the novel won the Pulitzer Prize, the idea of turning the novel into film came up again. Both John Milius and John Huston each attempted to adapt the novel into a feature film before Suzanne De Passe and Bill Whitliff decided to adapt the novel as a mini-series. It was then made into the four-part TV miniseries, which won seven Emmy Awards and was nominated for twelve others. It spawned four follow-up miniseries, Return to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo, Dead Man’s Walk, and Comanche Moon, and two television series, Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years.

Larry Jeff McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas. His novels include Horseman, Pass By (1962), The Last Picture Show (1966) and Terms of Endearment (1975), which were adapted into films earning 26 Academy Award nominations (10 wins). His 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove was adapted into a television miniseries that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations (seven wins), with the other three novels in his Lonesome Dove series adapted into three more miniseries earning eight more Emmy nominations. McMurtry and co-writer Diana Ossana adapted the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005), which earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including McMurtry and Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay.

While at Stanford McMurtry became a rare-book scout, and during his years in Houston managed a book store there called the Bookman. In 1969, he moved to the Washington, D.C. area, and in 1970 with two partners started a bookshop in Georgetown which he named Booked Up. In 1988, he opened another Booked Up in Archer City, which is one of the largest single used bookstores in the United States, carrying somewhere between 400,000 and 450,000 titles. Citing economic pressures from Internet bookselling, McMurtry came close to shutting down the Archer City store in 2005, but chose to keep it open after an outpouring of public support.