As I mentioned before, I was laid up for a week or so with gout, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It’s like having a broken leg only worse, because it hurts even when you hold still. Anyway, I really needed a good book to tide me over until I could walk again, and I found one: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It won the Pulitzer Prive in 1986.
This is a great big novel about the Old West, one of those 800-page monsters that become part of your life and you’re sorry when they’re over. Hollywood westerns have a kind sanitized, or at least simplified view of the frontier, but McMurtry knows a lot more about it, so you learn a lot about what it takes to take a herd of cattle across a major river or face up to a band of desperados or ride through a cloud of grasshoppers.
I’ve read the book before, and watched the television miniseries, which was excellent, so this time I was picturing Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, the two grizzled old Texas Rangers at the heart of the story.
When I watched the tv show, I was curious to see how they would handle the scene in which Gus McCrae shoots six bad guys before the young sheriff from Arkansas can even draw his gun. It was very well done. Duvall didn’t even hurry; he just fired methodically, blam blam blam blam blam blam. And the baddies are so bad you really savor it when they get what’s coming to them.
The real bad guy, Blue Duck, played by Frederic Forrest, doesn’t get his comeuppance until the very end, and then he winds up jumping out a third-story window, taking a deputy with him. There are quite a few nasty bad guys in this book, but Blue Duck is far and away the meanest and nastiest.
There are several very engaging female characters, too, especially Lorena Wood, played by Diane Lane, a real crush of mine, and Clara Allen, played by Angelica Huston, who’s another. Surprisingly, or not, love and romance are a big part of the book’s exploration of human nature.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a great read that won’t quit on ya, this is the book for you!