February 2, 2011

Nonrequired Reading: 016: Lonesome Dove



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

10 comments:

::athada:: said...

best of all time? I was already opening up PaperBackSwap to look for it after I read the first few sentences of your post :)

::athada:: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

Haha...best of all time FOR ME. Any luck on PBS?

::athada:: said...

Well, I think we have enough of an overlap that I might at least really enough it. Just ordered 4 more D. Coupland books.

And just ordered Lonesome Dove there - a few copies still available. When you buy the PBS credits instead of swap for them, it's only $3.45 a piece. That's $3.45 a book. My Nook still can't beat that. Except for the free, slightly scrambled download of the Brothers Karamazov.

Josh said...

Great! I just ordered two more copies to give away someday. We have 25 credits on PBS!

Are you in the States right now? Also, I'd be interested to know your top 10 books, if you keep an anal list like I do. :)

I'll start The Road today by McCarthy. Really excited!

::athada:: said...

I haven't really made a list. I try to track completed reads on FB's Visual Bookshelf, for my own records towards my lifelong goal of 1,000 books. 22.6% done, but I imagine this will slow a bit later this year.

We're not in the U.S. now, but there is a chance we'll be holed up in W-Michigan July-Sep for a certain life-altering event.

I put my top 15 authors in a FB note: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=487180269896

::athada:: said...

Oh - and to solve the puzzle of why I'd bother using PBS still: it is only useful as long as people still keep putting their butts in the Miami-La Paz american airlines flight with my cargo en tow.

Josh said...

What? Are you pregnant??? I can't imagine another life altering event that would take 3 months. :)

Checked out your list - we have many similarities. :) I keep meaning to check out Wendell Barry. What is the one book of his I should read?

::athada:: said...

10 wks :)

Really hard to say on Berry, but you def. do need to read him. On my bucket list to own & read all his works.

He does fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, so it really depends what you like or are in the mood for. The Unsettling of America is something of a classic for his non-fiction - a long rant against industrial agriculture, but elegant and ... how to explain... with holistic-thinking. Sex, Economy, Community, and Freedom is a series of essays - also good. I'm working through Bringing it to the Table, a recent book of essays old and new, foreward by Michael Pollen.

::athada:: said...

This is classic Berry, and maybe it will whet your appetite:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fight_for_a_world_without_coal_20110214

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