I am re-reading Lonesome Dove. Hat and I got into a discussion on FB as to the merits of McMurtry as an author. I think it is the only decent book he wrote, but Hat allows that Comanche Moon was pretty good. I don’t know for sure that I tried that one, but I read so many others with complete disappointment-I can’t imagine I missed it. As I read LD, I see the things he did so well as an author. To take a step back, I read an abysmal first novel some years ago. The author was writing about her real friends, so we would come to scenes where six or seven women would be having a discussion in the living room. Most authors are smart enough not to put all of their characters in the same room chatting at the same time. The author had not developed her characters well enough so that the average reader who did not actually know her friends had no idea which person was the quirky gardener and who was the quirky cook and who was the quirky…well you get my point.

As I traveled the Rio Grande with Larry, I was first introduced to Gus shooing pigs off the porch and drinking whiskey. On page 7 when I knew Gus pretty well I met two more guys, but they are completely different from each other. You just can’t mix up Call and Pea Eye. McMurtry spent quality time…basically doing a character sketch scene with each character before he introduced another, rather than giving each a cute quirk to remember them by, even though one might have pants made from a quilt and another a prairie-dog colored moustache. I am on page 151 and I bet I have met 20 characters, each very distinctive. I noticed that he introduced some of the crew four or six to a page. These characters seem to be fairly interchangeable. 

LD is a western, but it is so much more than that. It is an adventure, a saga, a lovestory. It’s funny; the characters are unforgettable. Mc Murtry does not glaze over things like mosquitoes, which I don’t believe L’Amour ever mentioned although they had to be a huge part of life. Lonesome Dove deserved the Pulitzer Prize it won.

Then I stopped in the middle of LD to read Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It is another saga type of book with a cast of thousands. Except most of them have odd names like Bran, rather than normal names like Pea Eye.  I do like a book with a map in the front, and this also has several pages of family trees in the back, which I have referred to often. Martin relies on these rather than character sketches at the beginning to familiarize the reader with the characters, although he did a nice sketch of one character 60 pages into the book. It is fun reading about the characters and trying to decide if they are good or evil, and sympathizing with the main characters as they try to navigate the politics of dealing with people both of you know they can’t trust. This book ended in a way that was sure to lure the reader into the second in the series. I find myself thinking about the characters. I think I will watch the movie they made and then tackle the ice wall again this winter.  

Someone told me that it takes a year after a big change like a divorce before you get your feet under you and you can find a normal. I am right at a year now, so I no longer will make excuses for stalling out in the middle of reading Harry Potter III to the ladies. Eva suggested The Hobbit and since I have never read any of Tolkien’s stuff, I officially make this my project with them just as soon as we finish HP. Eva says it has more dragons than spaceships and I trust her.

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