Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is a lengthy western that begins in the tiny town of Lonesome Dove, Texas. At 850+ pages, the book is lengthy yet highly readable. It also happened to earn the Pulitzer Prize in 1986.
The story revolves around two aging former Texas Rangers, Call and Gus. Call is an aloof, obsessive person who focuses entirely on work. Gus is a womanizing alcoholic that avoids work at all costs. Both of these characters are practically worshiped by the rest of the Hat Creek Cattle Company crew.
When a former associate, Jake suddenly shows up, Call decides to buy a herd of cows and run them to Montana. They build up a crew and leave behind the town and their past.
There are many interesting side characters sprinkled throughout the novel. Many of these have intertwining backstories, and when tragedy strikes, it is pretty affecting. With so many characters some are bound to be a bit flat and boring. This is especially true for the women characters.
Nearly all the women in the story are prostitutes. They are treated pretty dismissively with no real talents. This is especially true with Lorena. She is used and abused and follows Gus like a wounded animal. Clara, a former love of Gus’s, is an exception. She is an expert horse trainer and a resourceful, successful pioneer in the frontier of Nebraska. But alas, she too was once a prostitute.
The other female character of note is a youthful orphan that follows another side character. She has some fantastical, completely unbelievable talents, that help her survive. However, she isn’t in the novel for that long and adds nothing to the story.
Overall, Lonesome Dove is ruled by the characters. The plot is straightforward and the setting is usually quite vague. Also, McMurtry seems to have little knowledge about horses. This is especially true with distances traveled on horseback as well as general behaviors and care.
Despite some serious flaws, the story as a whole kept me interested. I would recommend it to someone who loves westerns but maybe not to someone not already interested in the genre. The ending is pretty weak but in a way fits the novel. The story reflects the ups and downs of life as well as the mundane things that happen.
Pair this with some Bison Union coffee, specifically the Ranch Hand variety.
Note: much of this review left out specifics so as not to spoil the story.