Top positive review
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Stick With It
on May 18, 2005
One of my favorite books that I read in my teens was "The Last Picture Show" by Larry McMurtry. (It was a pretty good movie as well). It really turned me on to this then-promising young author. When the sequel, "Texasville", came out years later, I read that as well. It turned out to be one of the worst books I have read. McMurtry's style of writing changed after his heart attack and his writing really suffered since shortly after "Lonesome Dove" came out. Still, I found myself continuing to read most every book of his that came out and wanting to be there when the old McMurtry showed up again.
After my experience with "Texasville", I bought, but was reluctant to read, "Duane's Depressed; the sequel to "Texasville". As I started out with the book I thought to myself, "This is what's wrong with the post-angina McMurtry". The problem is the excessive abundance of boringly idiotic characters. They're like an influx simplistic and Americanized people out of a Fellini movie. What made me almost put the book down and quit it is the multitude of Duane's children and grandchildren who are nothing but out of control spoiled brats. If this was the only book that I encountered these type of characters, I wouldn't mind. However, they overflow in all of the modern McMurtry.
As I struggled through a cast of totally disinteresting characters, I reached a point (at about a fourth of the way into the book) where the book really started to take off. We lose the dysfunctional offspring and start focussing on Duane Moore. His is a character well-developed by an author that was showing he's still got it. I found myself drawn into Duane and his life and challenges. I found myself relating to a man who was facing many things similar to what I was dealing with in my life. For the duration of the book, I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. It was a truly endearing study of a man bewildered by his past, present and future. As Duane was struggling with his issues, I found myself wondering if McMurtry was being autobiographical. I know next to nothing about his private life. It wasn't until his 14th or 15th book that a picture of him was shown on any dust jacket and that's the same picture that has appeared on every book since. Maybe it's an analogy of how his life changed after his heart attack. Whatever it was, the character of Duane takes me back to the early talent of Larry McMurtry.
This is a very good book that just happens to start out poorly. It isn't up there with "The Last Picture Show", "Lonesome Dove", "Leaving Cheyenne", or "Horseman Pass By". However, it IS in the category of "Moving On", "All My Friends are Going to be Strangers", "Terms of Endearment" and several others. When McMurtry's good he is VERY good but when he is bad...