Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm reading! - "Lonesome Dove"

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is long! 858 pages long to be exact. I'll admit that I was a little overwhelmed when my Amazon order came in; not necessarily because of the length - I love to read; long books mean I can stay in that world for longer - but because of the genre: it is a long Western novel. The closest that I've been to reading a Western before was the Dark Tower series by Stephen King - not exactly your typical Western story. I'm not even a fan of Western movies; although I admit to being a fan of real-life cowboys!

To begin with, I made the mistake of reading the preface by Larry McMurty, which assumes everyone has already read the book. So, I already knew that - spoiler alert- the blue pigs get eaten after walking all the way to Montana. Poor pigs! They walk over 1,500 miles, swim through snake infested rivers, and put up with a bunch of cows only to get eaten once they reach their destination! So, word to the wise, read the preface after you read the book unless, like me, you like the assurance that your favorite characters will survive the long journey, until the next book at least. (Thankfully I didn't much care about the pigs!)

Lonesome Dove is the story of two ex-Texas rangers, Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, that decide to leave the dusty town of Lonesome Dove in South Texas and drive cattle up to northern Montana - approximately 1,800 miles. On the road they face indians, bandits, snakes and the ever unpredictable weather - I've never really read a story in which the weather plays such a prominent role. It makes sense, however, to those of us who are familiar with the places described. Texas does have random crazy weather! It will be hot and sunny one second followed by hail and heavy winds the next. Also, the distances are amazing. I've done the drive from Brownsville, Texas (on the border with Mexico by the Gulf of Mexico) to San Antonio and Austin tons of times. The drive to Austin usually takes me about 5 1/2 hours in my comfortable car going about 70 to 80 miles per hour. There is about an hour in which the drive becomes ridiculously tedious - nothing but brush and flat land. I can't imagine being stuck in that area for days: much less riding a horse for almost 2,000 miles!

The first hundred pages or so of Lonesome Dove were a little bit slow. I would have given up except for my friend Emily's assurance that this is her favorite book of all time, and she has pretty good taste in books. It turns out that she was right; it is a very good novel! I was torn between worrying about the main characters on their journey and feeling sympathy for the indians that had originally lived on the land. I understand why they would feel out-of-sorts with the new settlers. Wouldn't you be upset if someone randomly decided to move into your land and kick you out? The books doesn't much lend itself to questioning the ethics of manifest destiny, though. It completely draws you into the world of these incredibly flawed but intriguing characters.

I hear the Lonesome Dove miniseries is amazing. I believe it! The actors were perfect for the roles - whoever did the casting was inspired. It is definitely on my DVR list now.

Gotta love the grainy 80's filming. Hopefully it's not too annoying once you start watching.

Have you read this book or watched the miniseries? Let me know what you thought!

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