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The Last Kind Words Saloon: A Novel Hardcover – May 7, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Liveright; 1St Edition edition (May 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871407868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871407863
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (357 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Many famous western characters make cameos in McMurtry’s first novel in five years, which continues in the farcical vein of the Berrybender series. An English lord, accompanied by his beautiful mistress, teams up with Charles Goodnight to found a vast cattle ranch near Palo Duro Canyon, Texas—and fails. Observing Goodnight from the sidelines are two wisecracking ne’er-do-wells, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, who, after a brief stint with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, drift down to Tombstone, where Wyatt’s brothers, Virgil and Warren, have taken up the law and saloon-keeping, respectively. Other than Goodnight, Wyatt is the only developed character: he’s a wife beater and alcoholic with a quick temper. He picks a fight with the Clantons, an ignorant but mostly harmless bunch, and kills them in a paragraph. The famous O.K. Corral fight is rendered as a heartless parody. Maybe McMurtry’s version is truer than all the romanticized ones, but Gus McCrae from Lonesome Dove will roll in his grave. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This might not be exactly what Lonesome Dove fans would like, but the first novel from McMurtry in five years will have his audience eager for anything. --John Mort

Review

“Larry McMurtry possesses one of the most engaging, tempting-to-imitate voices in contemporary American fiction, a voice so smooth and mellow you can almost hear the ice clink against the glass as he talks.” (Max Byrd - New York Times Book Review)

“By turns droll, stark, wry, or raunchy, this peripatetic novel…will satisfy many readers who long for more from literary icon McMurtry.” (Keddy Ann Outlaw - Library Journal)

“[The Last Kind Words Saloon] is never dull, and it’s also very funny. As always, McMurtry’s characters are plain-spoken but subtle and full of dry humor… Moseying along with McMurtry is always worthwhile.” (Adam Wong - Seattle Times)

The Last Kind Words Saloon is a beautiful, dreamy, deeply melancholy book, connecting legend and disparate threads of history in a seamless pastiche of tall tales drawn against the context of their real circumstances.” (Nathan Pensky - The Onion)

“In this ‘ballad in prose,’ as McMurtry describes his latest book, he paints the familiar historical characters in unfamiliar ways… lovely.” (Richard Eisenberg - People)

“A deftly narrated, often comically subversive work of fiction… If Lonesome Dove is a chronicle of the cattle-driving West that contains within its vast, broad ranges a small but heartrending intimate tragedy of paternal neglect, The Last Kind Words Saloon is a dark postmodernist modernist comedy.” (Joyce Carol Oates - New York Review of Books)

“Those who enjoy McMurtry’s rueful humor and understated tone of elegiac melancholy will devour the book in one setting.” (Michael Lindgren - Washington Post)

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

Very little story, very few pages, very few words.
Amy E. Heeter
Having been a big fan of Larry McMurtry, I am extremely disappointed in this book.
Richard Graham
It seemed like a pointless story with very few real characters.
Janice Kuzlik

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 85 people found the following review helpful By professor on May 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. Been a McMurtry fan a long time, even before Lonesome Dove when I read Horseman Pass By in grad school. His first work, it read well, but nothing like the later referenced Lonesome Dove. As a Texas writer/teacher, I wanted more - a lot more than a rehashing of some of the same tales of Doc and Wyatt that have been told a hundred times. I am disappointed with this book, have been with the move away from what he does so well to some of the stranger books he's written and co-written, and will not be a follower of future books. Lonesome Dove was as good as he gets and proliferation doesn't trump quality. Better to write well than to write a lot.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By C.R. Hurst TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Many years have passed since I read Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, though I remember how impressed I was with its authenticity of setting, story, and characters. In it McMurtry creates his own ballad of the American West where a hard people live hard lives in a harsh land. In The Last Kind Words Saloon he once again creates an authentic West, but like the faint impressions from a worn etching I thought the story and characters too spare.

In the novel McMurtry follows the friendship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the days before the gunfight at OK Corral. Throughout we meet other legends of the Old West such as Buffalo Bill Cody and Quanah Parker, and recurring characters from McMurtry's other novels such as Nellie Courtwright and Charlie Goodnight. We witness cattle stampedes, sand storms, and Indian raids. And although the skillful simplicity and earthy humor of the author's style are still evident, the stories never really develop and before we know it The Last Kind Words Saloon has ended. I wish there had been more.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Reader's Respite TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Like many readers, I have long been a fan of McMurtry and count his epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, among my favorite novels of all time. So when he releases a new novel set in the American West, I sit up and take notice. Such is the case this week with the release of THE LAST KIND WORDS SALOON, a novel about the last days of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday - an infamous duo if ever there were.

IMPORTANT: Those looking for an epic read along the lines of Lonesome Dove will be disappointed. McMurtry instead chose to pursue realism in his portrait of the most famous of the Earp brothers and his erstwhile, alcoholic friend Holliday. Doing so required sparseness, as indeed there little of note to either man's life, despite the legends that later grew up around them. As McMurtry noted in a recent interview:

"Wyatt didn't do much of anything except drink and pester his wife and run around," he says. "He didn't do anything remarkable his whole life, ever."

And The Last Kind Words Saloon goes to great pains to convey this in it's very brevity. Still, McMurtry can't conceal his trademark wit which usually has a way of showing up in dialog ("I need to travel with someone better educated," Wyatt said. "There are few subjects you can even discuss intelligently.") when you least expect it. While his characters may have acerbic banter, their actions are considerably less humorous. Earp regularly beats his wife, while Holliday fares slightly better if only because he doesn't drag another human being down with him. (“Nine out of ten statements Doc made were nonsense, but it was dangerous to stop listening because the tenth statement might be really smart.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on May 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Last Kind Words Saloon may be more enjoyable if readers approach it unaware of the kind of work Larry McMurtry is capable of in Lonesome Dove as well as in the remainder of that series. Those books contain an impressive majesty and scope while McMurtry's newest Western novel is little more than a series of vignettes that can be read in a few sittings.

If approached on its own merits, however, Last Kind Words is worth reading in a few summer afternoons. McMurtry continues the process of reimagining the American West. Wyatt Earp appears as a mean-spirited and squeamish sort who is not much of a hand with guns. He expresses surprise at his own celebrity: "'Why me?' Wyatt asked when he was told he was a hero of some sort. 'Abilene and Dodge are just as mean and ugly as they were before I went there. I subdued a few cowboys who had drunk too much for their own good, that's all.'"

McMurtry goes on to demythologize the Gunfight at the OK Corral, handling what appears to be a minor conflict in a few pages.

On the other hand, the author gives full account of cattle stampedes and of renegade Indians' savage treatment of their captives. He continues to focus on the ongoing war between men and women on the plains through Wyatt Earp's and Charlie Goodnight's marriages.

The Last Kind Words Saloon is not Lonesome Dove but it is quick, accessible, fun to read and presents a view of the West consistent with the author's more substantial efforts.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By B Scott Methvin on May 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a short book. It does contain a few gems of the sort readers of Mr. McMurtry have grown to love. The cameos of celebrity "old westerner" gets a bit silly to me. Charles Goodnight is the main character as well as Wyatt Earp. Goodnight seems to be McMurtrys favorite, he being in almost, if not all of the 4 Lonesome Dove series books.
Well this quick read is good for a long airplane flight or a long day at the beach. Nothing new here. His great books will always be hard to match. This one is just a snack.
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