On Reading ‘Lonesome Dove’

Yes, despite the fact that I have a horrible record of finishing door-stop books, I am reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove.

And it’s everything I expected to be and more.  It is looooong. The pacing is questionable, partly because it is loooong. It’s also beautiful. Engaging. Fascinating. And deep on characterization, which also hurts the pacing a bit, but it’s worth it.

It’s made me think a little on my writing and characterization. Like most writers I want my characters to pop of the page and engage the reader…and I want the readers to care about them, and speak about them like they are real people.  And I’m working on this. I am. But…

As much as I love Lonesome Dove’s characters, I just don’t see me ever writing this way. Almost as if chapters are given to share character background sketches.  I’m enjoying it, but I just don’t think I’m that writer.

Then again… there maybe something to be learned here.

Another thing I’m enjoying is McMurtry’s somewhat contrarian take on cowboy stories. These aren’t really the heroic characters of cowboy legend. I’m enjoying it.

Only have 700 pages left. Ha!

Still plan on trying my hand at a Western for one of this year’s novels.

BTW, If you haven’t noticed, I’m a big music fan.  Larry’s son, James McMurtry, is one of the greatest songwriters working in America.  If you haven’t check him out, you should.  Start with “Ruby and Carlos.”

–TD

7 thoughts on “On Reading ‘Lonesome Dove’

  1. You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever read an honest-to-God Western novel before. The only Louis L’amour book I read was ‘The Walking Drum’ set in the 12th century. If I’m probably ever going to read ONE Western, I wonder if it should be this one?

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      1. I would. It’s fantastic. Though I have to admit that it took a 2nd reading to fully appreciate it. All the Pretty Horses is excellent as well, though it’s outside of the time period I would classify as traditional Western.

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  2. I read Lonesome Dove for the first time a few years back. Love that book and look forward to re-reading again someday. If it’s not gripping you, it’s probably reader taste or you may just need to be in the right mood to settle in. Either way, I’m coming to learn that if I’m struggling through a story, there are too many good stories out there for me to waste my time on finishing the bad.

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