Western Author Series: Larry McMurtry #5 of 6
- Regardless of Larry McMurtry’s widespread appeal as a writer, there’s a surprising dichotomy between the man who writes award-winning western books and screenplays, and the same man who does almost everything possible to deflect attention regarding that particular success.
Case in point: In a 2008 interview with Deanne Stillman
, Larry McMurtry said, “I don't read reviews of my books because I don't learn anything by reading reviews of my books. The book is already written and has left my consciousness. So much time has passed that I feel little or no connection to the book anymore.” That's a stunning statement for a famous author. Most writers have to do a lifetime of inner-work and still never arrive at a point where reviews mean nothing. This quality seems to be a theme in his life and can be summed up as a revulsion to the aggrandizing of the past.
Larry McMurtry is one pragmatic man, with no inclinations towards romanticizing anything. He takes one day at a time and has no problem calling things as he sees them. This reluctance to aggrandize or embellish the past also applies to his views of cowboy life. Even in his ever-popular Lonesome Dove
, McMurtry was never trying to further America's passion for The Cowboy. Quite the opposite.
The bottom line is that Larry McMurtry can’t stand when people objectify cowboy folklore. To him, it is truly mythical - meaning, the “golden" era of cowboy life simply didn’t exist. It was always a hard, brutal, lonely, and often violent lifestyle. This is a message he tried to convey through his western books and he feels almost thwarted by their passionate acceptance by those who romanticize the very thing he tried not to.
In an aptly titled interview, “A Texan Who Likes To Deflate The Legends of the Golden West,
” McMurtry comments, “the myth of the clean-living cowboy devoted to agrarian pursuits and the rural way of life is extremely limiting...I don't think these myths do justice to the richness of human possibility.” He feels his family's heritage gives him permission to attack the rosy images of cowboy life since he has personally known, and experienced, its conflicting realities.
Even so, Larry McMurtry's figurative - and literal - return to his home landscape, and the themes of western agrarian life, exemplify the strong hold that lifestyle holds on all who have experienced it, and for those of us who wish we had.
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