Larry McMurtry | The National Endowment for the Humanities
white house citationlarry mcmurtry, for his books, essays, and screenplays. Mr. McMurtry’s work evokes the character and drama of the American West with stories that examine quintessential American life.
“I don’t remember either of my parents ever reading me a story; Maybe that’s why I’ve made up so many of them,” Larry McMurtry wrote in her first memoir, Books by Her. By his own count, he is the author of 50 works, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Lonely Dove and many other novels, but also an Oscar-winning screenplay, three memoirs, a short biography of Crazy Horse, and a collection of essays. p>
In a telephone interview, he avoided commenting on the state of the humanities, saying “I don’t theorize myself.” however, he added that he is “sad at what he’s missing” as people read more devices. and fewer books.
larry mcmurtry was born in 1936 on a ranch outside of archer city, texas. His first library was a set of 19 books given to him by a cousin who left for the war in 1942. McMurtry read and reread adventure novels. the gift, she once wrote, “changed my life.”
Among other books that McMurtry remembers reading as a child was an abridged version of Don Quixote. looking back, he remembers pondering “the serious differences (comically staged) between sancho and the don. between the two is where fiction lives, as I have mostly read and written it.”
Upon entering the Rice Institute (later Rice University) in Houston in 1954, McMurtry’s reading life took off as he “walked in wonder among the stacks of the Fondren Library, which at the time housed some 600,000 books.” he left rice and graduated from north texas state teachers university but later returned to rice to earn a master’s degree. he also spent a year at stanford university as a stegner scholar, where he studied with irish short story writer frank o’connor. By the late ’50s, McMurtry had manuscripts for two novels under his arm. the, rider, passes, would become in 1961 his first novel published by him, later taken to the hud cinema. the other, leaving cheyenne, would be mcmurtry’s second novel, and about which marshall sprague wrote in the new york times that “if chaucer were a texan writing today, and at only 27 years old, this is how he would have written and this is how he would have felt.”
“The best part of a writer’s life is actually doing it,” wrote McMurtry in his second memoir, The Literary Life, “The thrill lies in the rush of sentences, the gradual arrival of characters who both They seem to have a life of their own.” Two such characters are Emma Horton in the novels of endearment and Duane Moore in the last five picture books. When Emma died, he writes, “I felt the loss most deeply.” And about Duane Moore , she admitted in literary life, “it would be strange if I didn’t miss him. He wasn’t my alter ego in the first few books, but he certainly was my alter ego in the last few books.”
Lonely Dove, McMurtry’s 1985 novel about a pair of hot-tempered Texas Rangers, attempted to demystify the cowboy. He told a New York Times critic: “I am a critic of the cowboy myth. I don’t feel like it’s a myth that it belongs to, and since it’s part of my heritage, I feel it’s a legitimate task to criticize it.” Two other novels followed that also criticized the cowboy myth and, like The Lonely Dove to a large extent, were misinterpreted as supporting those legends. he argues that there is a danger of oversimplifying, once counting the times, that “the myth of the clean-living cowboy dedicated to agrarian pursuits and rural lifestyle is extremely limiting.”
Mcmurtry lives part of the year in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife Norma Faye Kesey (widow of novelist Ken Kesey), shares the home of his writing partner, Diana Ossana, and the three—all Texas residents—spend the rest of the year in archer city. McMurtry and Ossana have collaborated on several works, including the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, based on the short story by E. annie proulx
With income earned from film rights and screenwriting, McMurtry has earned a reputation as one of America’s best booksellers, having owned vintage and secondhand bookstores for many years. While living and teaching near Washington, D.C., McMurtry founded a reservation in Georgetown. When famous bookstores closed their doors in Washington and elsewhere in the 1970s, he and his partner, Marcia Carter, bought up their stock and filled their own store. they also bought from their wealthy and cultured neighbors in georgetown and dupont circle. much of the alice roosevelt longworth library, for example, came to them on a cold february day.
At 79, McMurtry is still the kind of cowboy he’s been most of his life, clumping words into paragraphs that become books, and collecting books from across the country in the Archer City, Texas, inventory. .