Lonesome Dove

Title: Lonesome Dove
Author: Larry McMurtry
Pages: 960
Pub: Penguin; 1986
Genre: Western
Etc: Pulitzer Prize winner

The Short of It
An epic journey told full circle.

The Long of It
Lonesome Dove is a one saloon town where ex-Texas Rangers, Gus & Call reside.  They run the Hat Creek outfit, which essentially means they sell horses to the few people who come to Lonesome lookin’ for them.  It’s a bit dull, but cozy for Gus, who just likes his whiskey and his women – in this case woman, as there’s just the one woman in town, Lorie.  (And by one, I mean only one whore, which I would normally find offensive, but have become quite desensitized by the jargon after having finished the novel.  In the story it is both used as a derogatory and also rather matter of factly: “I’m a whore.  It’s what I do.”).

So one day, all is very same-ole-same-ole when out pops this old pal, Jake Spoon, who speaks of the beautiful land of Montana.  As Jake paints the picture, Montana is lush and untainted; they could be the first settlers. He then makes his acquaintance with Lorie and whilst in the middle of charming her, offers to take her to San Francisco so she can become a proper lady.

Okay, but what we soon find out is Jake is a talker. You know.  We’ve all met men like that.  He’s good-natured, not too big on commitment, just kinda flows.  But Call, he’s ready to pack up and make way to Montana ALL THE WAY FROM FREAKIN TEXAS.  Like, the border of Mexico & Texas.  Riiiight.  Long journey, yes?

Well, Lorie is absolutely indignant and tells Jake he’s gonna take her SOMEWHERE whether he likes it or not. Which is how the Hat Creek outfit and a handful of other strays come to gather three thousand cattle to move up north.

The Thoughts about It

Ummmm…this book is EPIC.  And I totally mean epic in the real sense of the word and not in the slang stance my students have taken to; although, it’s epic in that way also.  We start out in Lonesome Dove and end up back in Lonesome Dove with a whole heck of a lot of interesting and frightful things happening in between.

First let me get this out there.  I owe a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to James over at Ready When You Are, CB.  Because if it wasn’t for him and his western challenge this month there’s no way I would have even picked up this book. 

You see, my only experiences with westerns are pretty limited.  I mean, I have vague recollections of watching Daniel Boone reruns as a family growing up.  The whole: Daniel Boone was a man…yes a big man.. was such an easy tune to get stuck in my wee little head.

Then I have the silly little gunslinger notion with John Wayne thought I probably have never actually seen a John Wayne movie.

And finally, Tombstone.  I loved me some Tombstone.  But that’s because Doc Holiday was absolutely yummy. 

When I signed up for the challenge I did a quick google of westerns and upon realizing this one had one the Pulitzer, I figured I might as well dive it and educate myself.  (I am ignorant, friends.  I don’t know if I’ve ever read another book that won the Pulitzer).

So, back to Lonesome Dove.  Man, oh man, can I encourage you to not wait as long as I did to pick this up?  I admit some of the scenes were tough for me to read, like the Indian massacre scenes.  I’m okay with gore, but I s’pose this was harder because it was REAL.  The characters were crazy three-dimensional and even though the writing wasn’t as lyrical as I would expect for me to get emotionally vested, I was.  Yeah, I cried.  I admit it.  There were scenes. 

This is such a great journey and I really did feel as though I travelled with this fellows.  There's something to be said about the ways of the west (and omg, did I just really say that?!)  

I don’t know if I’ll cave and claim that I’m partial to westerns, but I will be more open-minded in the future.  PLUS, I have the mini-series ready to record on my DVR.  


  1. Yea! Another blogger who likes Westerns. I just posted about Robert Parker's westerns a couple weeks ago.

    I'm that girl - the girl who has seen every John Wayne movie. Loved Tombstone and The Wild Bunch. Bemoan the fact that there aren't many new Westerns being made.

    Just watched Lonesome Dove this past fall and cried and loved every minute. Open Range is pretty good for a modern Western, and 3:10 to Yuma (the remake) was pretty good. There's one I'm forgetting....

    Anyway, so glad you enjoyed this!

  2. You're welcome. Glad you liked it. The mini-series is terrific.

    Maybe you'll give the Duke a go sometime.....

  3. I like the occasional western, but I've never been a huge fan. That being said, I loved this book. The characters were so well drawn and I was completely attached to them. The miniseries really is good too!

  4. As a Texan I can't believe I haven't read this. But every single dang time I head to Half Price Books I scour the shelves for a hardback copy of it. One day I will find it! The miniseries is great, though. Actually--maybe I'll pop it in and watch over the next few weeks while I work on my sewing.

    I really enjoy Westerns. Love the movie Tombstone.

  5. Lonesome Dove is the best western book ever written and the best western movie ever filmed...good review, thanks for posting...


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