Larry McMurtry’s new novel The Last Kind Words Saloon  takes the reader on an imagery ride into the sunset of the Old Wild West that he pictured so vividly in his previous classic Lonesome Dove.  Don’t look for a traditional story line in this latest McMurtry offering. Rather, this is what I call a chapter book ,which moves very quickly through images of the fading  lives  and lifestyles of  some of the Old West’s  iconic figures.


Through short , crisp chapters,  the reader glimpses  days and nights with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday,  and Jessie Earp the keeper of The Last Kind Words Saloon.   You will be re-acquainted with  Charlie Goodnight, the one-time Texas Ranger turned cattleman that was prominent in McMurtry’s fabulous novel Comanche Moon.  The trail passes through McMurtry’s home Texas turf from Long Grass  to Mobetie, then on to Tombstone, Arizona and of course the O.K. Corral. Men in search of  a last frontier.

The Last Kind Words Saloon  is  a last watering hole, a lost way of life, a friend fading with age as the Old West disappears before the eyes of the very men who established the treasured folklore.  With hope , they journey with a  faded marquee, The Last Kind Words Saloon, seeking to find a new place, which time has now forever lost.

Search for other great McMurtry books including  Lonesome Dove, Comanche Moon,  Dead Man’s Walk, Streets of Laredo and The Last Picture Show. 




It seems coincidental to be posting Larry McMurtry’s semi-autobiographical  novel The Last Picture Show on the morning after the Oscars. The 1961 book became the screen play for the 1971 motion picture adaptation starring Cybill Shepherd, Jeff Bridges, Cloris Leachman and Timothy Bottoms as Sonny ( presumably Larry McMurtry).  The picture won two Academy Awards with a total of eight nominations and was followed by a sequel based on McMurtry’s  novel Texasville. McMurtry grew up in West Texas  thus becoming the natural setting for The Last Picture Show.  Surely the book is McMurtry’s coming of age in a everybody knows everybody small town with little to do and less to offer.


” Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town. There was only one car parked on the courthouse square-the night watchman’s old white Nash. A cold norther was singing in off the plains, swirling long ribbons of dust down Main Street, the only street in Thalia with businesses on it. Sonny’s pick up was a 41 Chevrolet, not at its best on cold mornings. In front of the picture show it coughed out and had to be choked for a while but then it stared again and jerked its way to the red light, blowing out spumes  of  white exhaust that the wind whipped way.”

Enter the cast of characters, buddies, girl friends, oil field rough necks , the pool hall king, the football coach and his unfulfilled wife, Roberta ( Mrs. Popper). “When Sonny kissed Mrs. Popper outside the Legion Hall it seemed to him that the whole spectrum of delicious experience lay suddenly within his grasp.” And so goes this marvelous adventure of growing up i the 1950s in what could be a hundred other American small towns.  McMurtry’s brilliance nails nearly every nuance  of teens stumbling into adulthood.

It is fitting that we post The Last Picture Show during Oscar week. McMurtry is the author of some 40 screenplays including Lonesome Dove  and he co-authored the screen play for Brokeback Mountain. He has also written thirty highly acclaimed novels including Lonesome Dove for which he won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  The book was the basis of the TV series and the blockbuster motion picture of the same name.  Search for overviews of McMurtry’s other great series of books on the American West.


On the top shelf, back in the upper right hand corner sits Lonesome Dove, the 1985 Pulitzer Prize winner by Larry McMurtry.  Who could forget Lonesome Dove?  A blockbuster movie, television series, country music iconic song all attributed to McMurtry’s storytelling.  All of the elements of a great western epic are incorporated in Lonesome Dove. Texas Rangers, a love story, Indians, a lawless frontier, and the sheer beauty and adventure of a cattle drive from Texas to Montana.  Recalling the pleasure of reading Lonesome Dove brings into focus the entire Lonesome Dove Series. 

Lonesome Dove (1985), Streets of Laredo (1989) Dead Man’s Walk (1996) Comanche Moon (2008). Although written in the aforementioned order, if you wish to read them in the chronological order of the plot setting you would begin with Dead Man’s Walk  ( set in the 1840s) dealing with the earliest adventures of  Texas Rangers Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call set around the Santa Fe Expedition of 1841.  You will also be introduced to Comanche worrier Buffalo Hump and several other important characters that appear in the later novels.

Comanche Moon is set in the 1850s-1860s with McRae and Call in pursuit of the Comanche horse thief Kicking Wolf. Also entering the storyline is McRae’s love interest Clara Forsythe, and his rival Bob Allen. Buffalo Hump leads the Comanche Nation to war with a detailed plot of characters and twist and turns moving through the Civil War and to Lonesome Dove.

Streets of Laredo is the fourth and final book in the series, set in the 1890s.  Texas Ranger Woodrow Call is now a bounty hunter tracks a Mexican Bandit who is praying on the railroads. Gus McRae appears protecting settlers from renegade Indians and bad folks in general. Loves are won and lost; the paternity of certain children is surprisingly identified. Judge Roy Bean, “The Law West of thePecos” is hanged.

I read Lonesome Dove first, set in the mid to late 1870s but having done so my next step is to return to the beginning of the chronological order of the plots and pick up Dead Man’s Walk.

McMurtry’s ability to establish and carry forward characters reminds me of Tom Clancy with Jack Ryan, Jack Ryan Jr., et al.   McMurtry has given us Augustus  Gus” McCrae, Woodrow F. Call, Joshua Deets, Pea Eye Parker, Jake Spoon, Clara Forsythe Allen, Maggie Tilton, Lorena Wood Parker, Blue Duck, and Buffalo Hump. You will be fascinated with all of them.