Friday, September 30, 2011

Retro Friday Review: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie of Angieville and "focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc."

Lonesome Dove: A Novel by Larry McMurtry
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 1985
ISBN: 9781439195260 (among many)
Source: Library

I don't think it's really possible to write a "summary" of this book, since there is so much that happens.  Here's what I managed: McCall and Gus are two old Texas Rangers who decide to head to Montana, one of the last wild places in America, with a herd of cattle.  Along the way, they deal with young foolish cowboys and stubborn women and renegade Indians. 

Things I Liked:
This book is so epic I don't think I could talk about everything in it if I talked for a month.  I loved Gus most of all I think.  He seemed the most honest, the most likable character, though he does a lot of stuff that I wish he hadn't.  Also, Newt was another favorite of mine, looking to find himself and wondering when his life will truly begin.  The story has adventures and sorrow and hope and all kinds of human frailty woven into a huge epic tapestry.  I'm definitely not a fan of Westerns, but this one had me invested all the way through its 800+ pages.  An epic worth reading.

Things I Didn't Like:
It was hard to be interested at first.  I struggled through probably the first 100 pages and wondered when something would happen or when I'd start caring about the characters.  I gave it time and stuff happened and I ended up caring about the people.  In addition, it was just so sad that I almost didn't like it when I came to the end.  It seemed like everyone was unhappy and no one liked who they were or where they were.  Definitely not a book that will lift your spirits.  And the talk of whores all through the entire book really tired me. 

The only thing similar I remember reading is All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Louis L'Amore stuff I'm sure

s-factor: !@#
very regularly throughout, though no f-bombs

mrg-factor: XXXXX
it's everywhere in this book, some pretty graphic

v-factor: ->->
hey, in the old West, violence was a part of life

Overall rating: ****

Have you read this one?  I think I might be the only person who didn't adore it.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Read this a year ago as part of a read along with another blogger -- loved it! So many visuals -- Gus, snakes, Indians, cattle -- the imagery is still so vivid. But a reader has to be prepared for the long haul with this book.

  2. I have a co-worker who's been trying to get me to read this one for ages. Like you, I'm not really a fan of westerns, though to be fair, I haven't really read many. I did read ALL THE PRETTY HORSES and absolutely loved it, so maybe this one would work for me. Although the ending doesn't sound like an awfully ringing endorsement. ;)

  3. Melissa, it does have a lot of action and imagery going for it. I think it was your group's read-along that made me pick it up (a year later)!

    Angie, it definitely requires a big investment of time and effort and I'm totally not the book's best advocate. I think All the Pretty Horses just has some similar stuff, but isn't really close in plot or characters. I'd be interested in your thoughts if you ever did read it!


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