Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

LarryMcMurtry LonesomeDove.jpg

When I finished the novel, I  knew why it was one of Elizabeth's favorites.  There is the range of characters: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, dim, bright, brave, cowardly, and every shade in between.  There is the sweep of the geography, from south Texas to northern Montana, each region with its own terrible weather.  There is the story, a saga of two men driving cattle and wondering why after a while they got sucked into such an episode.

 But mostly there are the two men themselves, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, ex-Texas Rangers who are more used to enforcing the law, but know how to break it expertly when it comes to stealing horses and cattle.  They are an odd couple. Gus is charming, lazy, funny, and almost educated.  Call  is grumpy, taciturn, a workaholic, and true to his word. 

After spending time with everyone in this book, I missed them when I was finished.  I have never cried so hard when people died in a book.  Not only did I get attached to all the people, but also the horses, bulls, bears, and even two pigs linger still in my mind.

This is a book mostly about courageous men who settled the west, and Indians who were chased off their land, and Buffalo driven to extinction.  The women are also important, even though it takes several hundred pages to introduce any kind of female who does not make her living selling her body.  The chief three whores advance the plot in major ways, and have excellent things to say about freedom and love.  When one civilized woman appears, it turns out it is Gus McCrae's one true love, and she is a titan of feminist independence.

I am very glad to have finally read something that mattered to Elizabeth, and salute her English teacher, Celeste Tramontin, who I suspect recommended the book to her.

The miniseries with Robert Duvall (as Gus McCrae) and Tommy Lee Jones (as Woodrow Call) is pretty perfect as well, but stripped of all the fine detail of the novel.     

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How Dina Aunty relished her memories. Mummy and Daddy were the same, talking about their yesterdays and smiling in that sad-happy way while selecting each picture, each frame from the past, examining it lovingly before it vanished again in the mist. But nobody ever forgot anything, not really, though sometimes they pretended, when it suited them. Memories were permanent. Sorrowful ones remained sad even with the passing of time, yet happy ones could never be re-created—not with the same joy. Remembering bred its own peculiar sorrow. It seemed so unfair: that time should render both sadness and happiness into a source of pain.

> From A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry