Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lonesome Dove

Lonesome DoveLonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Retired Texas Rangers Woodrow F. Call and Augustus McCrae leave behind their sleepy lives in the Texas town of Lonesome Dove to drive a herd of cattle to Montana. Will they make it alive?

When I was a lad, around the time the glaciers receded and civilization began, I was enthralled with a certain TV miniseries. It was, in fact, Lonesome Dove. Though it took a couple decades, I finally made myself read the book the miniseries was based on and I've very glad I did.

Lonesome Dove is an epic set in the dying days of the Old West. On the surface, it's the story of two men entering old age and going on one last adventure. Digging a little deeper, it's a story about friendship, loyalty, obsession, and carving out a new place for yourself in a world that's moved on without you.

The tale of a cattle drive across three thousand miles of prairie doesn't sound that interesting on the surface but McMurtry's tale is populated with a colorful cast of characters. Aging lady's man Augustus McCrae and duty-bound Captain Call contrast one another nicely. While being opposite in terms of personality, they both still have enough grit to be believable as former Texas Rangers and I have no trouble believing in their friendship.

The supporting cast also has its share of gems, like gambler and former Texas Ranger Jake Spoon, Arkansas sheriff July Johnson, former whore Lorena Wood, Gus's former love Clara, and Newt, the son of a dead whore whose father has yet to acknowledge him. While the book has an epic scope, the shifting viewpoints and colorful characters make it very accessible and a quick read for a book of its size.

While I'd seen the miniseries a couple times, this book managed to wring a few man-tears out of me. Knowing the deaths were coming made it harder somehow. I held out hope that a couple people would survive despite dying in the miniseries but it was not to be. The bottom line is that deep down, all men wish we had a friend that would haul our carcass from Montana to Texas if that was our dying request.

Five out of five stars. Go read the son of a bitch.

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