I have debated for much of the week whether or not what I'm about to say is as objectively accurate as it can be. And it seems after much thought and deliberation, the following statement holds up: Lonesome Dove is my favorite book of all time.
One of the strongest indicators to this declaration was how sad I felt that my reading of the novel would one day come to an end, even though I first had this notion with some 700 pages to go. With 50 pages left, I literally set the book down, took a deep breath and decided to hold out for a few more days, even though I was aching to read to the end. It's the kind of novel that leaves me wondering how a writer could possibly make up such a beautiful and compelling story. Surely great writers are the rarest folks on earth.
The writing isn't mesmerizing like Chabon's, nor does the plot twist like Foer's, but the main characters, Call and Gus and Lorena, were as memorable as any I've ever come across. The plot is straightforward in it's direction and character development, yet this Western cowboy-and-Indian story pulls you in on so many levels, constantly leaving you wondering where the last hundred pages went. It's also a travelogue, as the story revolves around two men who decide to take a cattle herd up to Montana. The come across Indians and women and sandstorms and everything else that makes up a great traveling tale - except the backdrop is this wild west that I know very little about. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time.
"Evening took a long time getting to Lonesome Dove, but when it came it was a comfort. For most of the hours of the day — and most of the months of the year — the sun had the town trapped deep in dust, far out in the chaparral flats, a heaven for snakes and horned toads, roadrunners and stinging lizards, but a hell for pigs and Tennesseans. There was not even a respectable shade tree within twenty or thirty miles; in fact, the actual location of the nearest decent shade was a matter of vigorous debate in the offices — if you wanted to call a roofless barn and a couple of patched-up corrals offices — of the Hat Creek Cattle Company, half of which Augustus owned."
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove, Page 1