Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not My Bag

Lonesome DoveLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beautifully pointless.

Yes, it's sweeping. Yes, it's epic. Yes, it's beautifully written.

My problem is, this sprawling saga of the Old West sprawls entirely too much, with an utterly horrible lack of resolution. The cattle drive that forms (or seems to form- it's hard to tell with this book) the main narrative thrust is really more of a backdrop for a large cast to pursue their character arcs-- sort of.

For all the horses and cattle and gunfire, the battles with outlaws, rustlers and the occasional indian, nothing much really happens. Maybe it was just that literary fashion in the 70's and early 80's to deny the reader a satisfying ending (Styron, Michener, I'm looking at you!), but I felt like I was reading To the Lighthouse: Western Version.

Really, I gave this book three stars because the language is beautiful, the action scenes exciting. Overall, I'm mad because McMurtry's other work led me to hope for more from the story.

For people wandering pointlessly in and out of each other's lives, breaking each other's hearts and betraying their own dreams, their deaths every bit as shabby and pointless as the lives they've led, for that I don't need a book. For that I've got real life.

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Charles Gramlich said...

I felt very much the same. Too many characters, for one. And yes, way too much sprawling.

cs harris said...

What you said. Some great scenes. Some great characters. A serious lack of ruthless editing.

Erik Donald France said...

I'm with ya ~ I do dig Larry McMurtry to the point of chekcing out his Booked Up book shop annexes in Archer City, TX, and will note the historical nature of the sprawl, but still . . . a novel like The Last Picture Show is much more focused.

Shea Goff said...

Ah, Steve. You break my heart, man. This is one of my favorite reads. Those real life people, the characters Larry so beautifully created are what it did for me. I loved them.