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The LAST PICTURE SHOW : A Novel Paperback – January 14, 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Thalia Trilogy
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 14, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684853868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684853864
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In The Last Picture Show Larry McMurtry introduced characters who would show up again in later novels, Texasville and Duane's Depressed. This first volume of the trilogy drops the reader into the one-stoplight town of Thalia, Texas, where Duane Moore, his buddy Sonny, and his girlfriend Jacy are all stumbling along the rocky road to adulthood. Duane wants nothing more than to marry Jacy; Sonny wants what Duane has; and Jacy wants to get the hell out of Thalia any way she can. This is not a novel of big ideas or defining moments; over the course of a year Duane and Jacy make up and break up, Sonny begins an affair with his high-school football coach's wife, and the only movie house in town closes its doors forever. Yet it is out of these small-town experiences--a nude swimming party in Wichita, a failed sexual encounter during a senior trip, a botched elopement, an enlistment--that McMurtry builds his tale and reveals his characters' hearts. No epiphanies here, just a lot of hard-won experience that leaves none of his protagonists particularly wiser, though they're all a little sadder by the end. --Alix Wilber


The New York Times Book Review McMurtry is an alchemist who converts the basest materials to gold; the sexual encounters are sad, funny, touching, sometimes horrifying, but always honest, always human.

Los Angeles Times McMurtry can transform ordinary words into highly lyrical, poetic passages. He presents human dramas with sympathy and compassion that make us care about his characters in ways that most novelists can't.

The Boston Globe There aren't many writers around who are as much fun to read as Larry McMurtry.

More About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. His other works include two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, including the coauthorship of Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award. His most recent novel, When the Light Goes, is available from Simon & Schuster. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Seen the movie now have read the book .
It's a beautifully written book with great characters, real-sounding dialog, and exactly the right mood.
Harry Puncec
My first McMurtry novel to read is now one of my favorite books.
Mark Philip Mcinnis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Melissa P. Cooper on November 4, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wow. Like the movie that was based on it, this book is one of those almost-forgotten gems of modern art. Other folks here have outlined the plot--such as it is--and the characters. I am just here to add my own endorsing reflections, for what they're worth.

Larry McMurtry really nailed it on the head where small-town America is concerned. The ties that bind, the price you pay for being different in ANY way, and how, in Lois' words, "anything gets old if you do it often enough." (I grew up in a town that had a "show" that didn't get movies until a year or two after they'd played in the big cities. And I had a teacher or two as lazy as Coach Popper (none as chauvinistic, however). People who went to "off" to college were the exeption rather than the rule--much as it was in Thalia. We had boys and girls like Duane, Sonny, and Jacy, too--though I don't remember hearing of any were close to their livestock. . .if you know what I mean:)) At least two of the characters here had married young--because that's what you did and what else was there to do, really--and settled into lives of boredom and routine. While I can't say I thought all the actions of the young and not-so-young characters here were necessarily smart or well-thought-out, there was never a moment that I didn't understand what they were thinking.

Much has been written about Sonny, Duane, Sam the Lion, and the other menfolk here, but I also thought McMurtry did an especially good job of developing all four of the main female characters here--especially Lois, and secondly Jacy--both of whom had spirit and passion much too large for the time and place of their lives. I liked these women in spite of myself! I will now have to read Texasville to find out what happens to them and everyone else.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 3, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Larry McMurtry, probably America's most uneven 'great' writer, produced at least one masterpiece of contemporary storytelling, The Last Picture Show. This book is so true to its time and place, so honest in its language and its character's actions, that one comes to feel that these are real people that one has known - and maybe loved - for a long time. The story is so direct and the characters are so simple and ordinary that the emotional empact of the book comes as some surprise. One doesn't expect that the stuff of great emotional intensity could be built on such a prosaic foundation.
All of McMurtry's really good books have been turned into better than average cinema. I think it's a toss up as to whether the movie or the book is better in this case, but there can be no question that the book is an American classic and will be read with pleasure (and tears) by generations.
Now, if we could just keep him from bad sequels - like Texasville . . .
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Philip Mcinnis on January 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm 17 and have lived in a small town all my life, although my town is a little less depressing than the community of Thalia. The theme of this book is the trappings of small towns, the loneliness of them, and the bittersweetness of youth, which I could relate to all too well. I had not read McMurtry before, but was instantly smitten by the 50's setting and the author's excellent characterization. The book reads swiftly, thanks to the compelling characters (and their many love affairs), who are likeable but still recognizably flawed, yearning for what they can't have, and settling to get what they can.

This is not your typical coming-of-age novel. It is a beautifully crafted work of Southern lit that I think even a city-dweller could relate to; although it is predominantly about being stuck in Thalia, it's also about feeling so lost in a place you know so well. My first McMurtry novel to read is now one of my favorite books.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Last Picture Show", one of Larry McMurtry's earliest and most famous works, prove what a great story teller he is. The characters (Sonny, Duane, Jacy, Ruth, Herman, Lois, Sam, etc) all seem so true to life you find yourself caring about them as they suck you into their sex-obsessed world of teenage lust and adult disappointments. Sonny and Duane mistake Jacy for the glittering prize she is not and pay for it in their own ways. Jacy is manipulative, shallow and heartless and easily the most despicable character (perhaps after Herman) but even then, you feel pity rather than hatred for her. The miserable lives of Ruth and Lois lend a deep sense of pathos to the story. Life is "no win" in this small Texan town. You never forget the bleakness of the lives of this ensemble cast of characters in small town America but not for one moment do you feel weighed down by a sense of dreariness which seems to afflict novels of this genre. McMurtry's easy writing style and his sparkling wit and humour, all conspire to lighten the mood and keep the reader in rapt attention throughout. He never makes heavy weather of serious themes and though his works (including TLPS) are studied today as literature, it is so accessible and incredibly enjoyable you never feel it is hard work. Such is the talent of McMurtry. The next thing I'm going to do is check out the award winning movie version which McMurtry had a hand in making and is considered one of the classic movies of the early 70s. One of the most enjoyable novels I have read this year. Highly recommended.
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