Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Lonesome Dove is about a group of cowboys - many of them former Texas Rangers - driving cattle from South Texas to Montana - The Promised Cattle Land - and all the drama and story that goes along with that.

I'm not a huge western fan. But I have to say this is an excellent book, western and all. It helps that it's actually about more than just cowboys and the cattle drive. There's the deep bond and friendship of two men, the teenager whose father won't claim him, broken hearts, unrequited love, the chasing of dreams, finding one's place in the world, and death. Lots and lots of death. Death that will surprise you. Death that will make you cry. So it's more, much much more, than just about cowboys and the cattle drive.

McMurtry accomplishes something very difficult that not many writers could pull off... The story is told from multiple perspectives. Where some writers would make the perspective transition chunky and awkward with physical cues to tell you about the upcoming switch, McMurtry writes as if the characters are just passing the storytelling stick around the campfire circle. There is no break in the narrative, no visual cue that tells the reader there will be a change in narrator. Rather the new narrator picks up right where the old one left off. Seamlessly. The benefit to this naturally is that the reader gets a better understanding of the motives of all the characters rather than the skewed version of events of just one. It makes the already rich story (with it's fantastic characters and incredible personalities) that much richer and more enjoyable.

To quote
USA Today's praise (because I couldn't agree more) on the back cover of my copy: "If you read only one western novel in your life, read Lonesome Dove."

Next month - Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Disclosure: No one paid me in any way, form or fashion to do this review.

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