Whenever somebody that I know offline would ask me what my favorite read of 2010 was (surprisingly a question I hear more offline than online), I without any hesitation or doubt would say Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. “Really?” and a blank stare is what I would almost always get back. People, this book was AMAZING. Every 945 pages of it. When it ended, I wished there was another 945 pages. I was not ready to let these characters go! Lonesome Dove has deservedly been called epic. But what makes a book epic? I think it’s just one of those things that you know it when you read it. And oh, was this book epic.
Larry McMurtry is a master storyteller. I was a tad daunted opening that very first page and I do admit that even 200 pages into the book I wondered if anything was ever going to happen. And even though it was off to a slow start, I wouldn’t wish it any other way. The background characterization that McMurtry gives his essential to the story.
The inside cover of my copy of the book lists the key characters with a short description of each. I loved the summary it gave so am taking the liberty of copying it here for you.
Augustus McCrae: ex-Texas Ranger. A fierce fighter, loyal friend, gentle lover, a boisterous spinner of colorful yarns. Gus years for adventure, and is drawn into Woodrow Call’s dream – a cattle drive to Montana, to the free and wild frontier . . .
Woodrow F. Call: Gus’s partner and friend, a driven, demanding man, a leader with no patience for weakness – and a secret sorrow of his own . . .
Jake Spoon: dashing gambler, former comrade-in-arms of Gus and Call, his passions plunge him into a terrifying fate . . .
Clara Allen: the woman of Gus’s young dreams. Out of the frontier’s cruelty and death, she forgers a life as generous, brave and unyielding as the land she learns to love . . .
Blue Duck: a renegade Indian with cunning heart of a vulture. He tortures and ills across the Plains, and savors his victim’s agony . . .
Newt: the brave, bewildered young cowboy who discovers his manhood, and his past, on the hazardous journey into Montana . . .
The Hat Creek Outfit: Jake, Deets, Pea Eye and the Boys . . . wranglers, tracers and scouts, they follow Gus and Call into the heart of the adventure, through sandstorms, stampedes, bandits, floods and snow . . . living on in the undying legends of the great American frontier.
If you don’t know who these characters are from having read Lonesome Dove yourself, I dare you to love them. I dare you to hate them.
I picked up this book in every spare moment of my day when I was reading it. And when I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be reading it. I thought about it constantly. I know I haven’t gone into all the intricacies of why Lonesome Dove is so amazing but let me tell you simply- the characters! the story! the love! the friendships! the fighting! the determination! the devotion! the heroes! the outlaws! the whores! the Indians! the frontier! the forging ahead! the friendships again! And it’s also laugh out loud funny with some great one-liners and some beautiful passages. Definitely need those lighthearted and thoughtful moments between the gun slinging, the scalping, and the hangings.
Yes, my favorite book of 2010 was unabashedly a Western. A genre I didn’t really think I read. But did I tell you I loved this book? Oh, how I loved Lonesome Dove. Officially one of my most favorite books. Ever. Do you need more recommendation then that?
(I remember when the mini-series came on TV when I was little and we all watched it together as a family. MUST re-watch it now! )
Links of interest: More book blogger reviews.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Western
Publisher: Pocket Books. 1985.
Paperback, 945 pages. ISBN 067168390X
Lonesome Dove is available from your favorite independent bookstore, Powell’s, and Amazon.