Texas Morning, Lonesome Dove Style

It’s a lovely morning in the Dallas metro-plex.  Spring has been here for several weeks actually, and it is amazing to wake up to Spring-time weather in March.  Not what I’m used to.  But I like it.

Have you read any “tell-everyone-about” great books lately?   Don’t your books usually come your way by several means?  As gifts, borrowed, purchased new, used book stores, dollar stores, Book Clubs, Salvation Army stores, Goodwill stores – these are where most, if not all, of my books come from. 

Some of the BEST books I’ve read have come from the last two places I mentioned.  I have found, though, that the Salvation Army and Goodwill just don’t have the selection and quality of books that they used to have.  (I’m such a high-class shopper.)

I love books and I love to read.  One of the the most amazing books that I purchased was from Goodwill.  When selecting a book, I usually just go by 1) if I have heard of the book and it seems appealing, 2) if the book has been recommended by a friend and it seems appealing, 3) if I am familiar with the author and like his/her work or 4) if it is about a topic that might interest me. 

I was at the Goodwill store specifically to find a book.  The selection was horrible and I was feeling like I would be leaving without making a purchase. (I don’t buy just anything and hope for the best.)  About to give up, I just happened to notice a really fat paperback and looked at the title. 

It was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.  Of course, I had heard of Lonesome Dove – who hasn’t?  It won the Pulitzer prize (in 1986) and there was a  mini-series on TV a number a years ago.  (Hadn’t seen it.)   Now, I don’t care so much for westerns.  But the Pulitzer prize!           

I didn’t really care that there had been a mini-series – I was just impressed with the Pulitzer!  

What did I have to lose?  Paperback – it was only 50 cents.  (Hardbacks are a dollar.)  So I paid for the book and left the store.  Believe me, that was the best 50 cents that I’ve spent in my life! 

Lonesome Dove is a tale about a cattle drive from Lonesome Dove, Texas (on the Mexican border) to the Milk River in Montana in the 1870s.  The two main characters, former Texas Rangers, Woodrow Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae, will be with me forever.  

A reviewer of Lonesome Dove said it perfectly – “I envy the person who is just reading Lonesome Dove for the first time.”

After finishing Lonesome Dove, I learned that it was part of a four-book series.  Larry McMurtry had found so much success with Lonesome Dove that after writing Lonesome Dove, he wrote three additional books around it, with Lonesome Dove being the third in the series.

Well, at that point, I went to Amazon.com and purchased the other three books in the series.  Then I read them all in order, reading Lonesome Dove for the second time.  The books are titled, in order of the series:  Dead Man’s Walk, Comanche Moon, Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo. 

The other three are well worth reading, but my favorite, of course, is Lonesome Dove.

I saw an interview Larry McMurtry did where he talked about writing Lonesome Dove.   He said that he always liked to have a title while writing a book.  He had started Lonesome Dove without a title and just couldn’t come up with one.  So he put the unfinished manuscript in a drawer because he didn’t feel he could write any more without a title. 

A Texan, McMurtry happened to be on a trip to Oklahoma and was sitting in a restaurant.  He looked out of the restaurant window and saw a church van.  On the side of the van was written, “Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, Southlake, Texas.”  He said that the minute he read what was on that church van, he knew that he had the title for the manuscript in the drawer.

After a bit of  investigation he found that this church and adjoining cemetery had been in existence since the mid 1840s. That would fit in the time line of the book.   (By the way, Southlake, TX is just two miles from where I live.)

Call and Gus are based loosely on two real-life Texas cowboys, Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving.  I had heard the names and maybe you have too.  You can read about them on wikipedia.com and other sites on the internet.  (There are many.)  Just Google their names.   A beautiful story of devoted friendship.

My youngest son, John was reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy at the same time I was reading Lonesome Dove.  He was really into The Road and said to me, “Mom, you really should read this book.”  Even though it was a Pulitzer prize winning novel, the cover looked rather bleak and I said, “I don’t think so, John.” 

He kept insisting that I read The Road, so I said, “Okay, John, I’ll make a deal with you.  You read Lonesome Dove and I’ll read The Road.”  He agreed.  After I finished Lonesome Dove, I read The Road.  No further comment other than it was awful. 

So I said to John, “Well, when are you going to read Lonesome Dove?” 

“I will.”  A few weeks go by. 

“John, have you read Lonesome Dove yet?”

“No, but I will.”  

“We made a deal, John.”  Another few weeks go by.   Still hasn’t read Lonesome Dove.

 Now another few months go by.  “John, we had a deal.  I kept my end of the deal and you better keep yours,” I said with a smile.  “I will.  I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”

A few months later:  “John, have you read Lonesome Dove yet?”

“Mom, it’s amazing.”

Blessings to you and yours,  Cookie

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One Response to Texas Morning, Lonesome Dove Style

  1. Alicia says:

    And I’ll read Lonesome Dove as soon as you and John read Twilight :).

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