Synopses & Reviews
In a prolific life of singular literary achievement, Larry McMurtry has succeeded in a variety of genres: in coming-of-age novels like The Last Picture Show
; in collections of essays like In a Narrow Grave
; and in the reinvention of the Western on a grand scale in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove
Now, in Books: A Memoir, McMurtry writes about his endless passion for books: as a boy growing up in a largely bookless world; as a young man devouring the vastness of literature with astonishing energy; as a fledgling writer and family man; and above all, as one of America's most prominent bookmen. He takes us on his journey to becoming an astute, adventurous book scout and collector who would eventually open stores of rare and collectible editions in Georgetown, Houston, and finally, in his previously bookless hometown of Archer City, Texas.
In this work of extraordinary charm, grace, and good humor, McMurtry recounts his life as both a reader and a writer, how the countless books he has read worked to form his literary tastes, while giving us a lively look at the eccentrics who collect, sell, or simply lust after rare volumes. Books: A Memoir is like the best kind of diary full of McMurtry's wonderful anecdotes, amazing characters, engaging gossip, and shrewd observations about authors, book people, literature, and the author himself. At once chatty, revealing, and deeply satisfying, Books is, like McMurtry, erudite, life loving, and filled with excellent stories. It is a book to be savored and enjoyed again and again.
"McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) calls this 'a book about my life with books.' He begins with his Texas childhood in an isolated, 'totally bookless' ranch house. His life changed in 1942 when a cousin, off to enlist, gave McMurtry a box of 19 adventure books, initiating what eventually became his personal library of 28,000 books. 'Forming that library, and reading it, is surely one of the principal achievements of my life,' he writes, deftly interweaving book-collecting memories with autobiographical milestones. When his family moved to Archer City, Tex., he found more books, plus magazines, films and comic books. In Houston, attending Rice, he explored the 600,000 volumes in the 'wonderful open-stack Fondren Library... heaven!' In 1971, after years of collecting, he opened his own bookstore, Booked Up, in Georgetown, Tex., relocating in 1996 to Archer City, where he created a 'book town' by filling five buildings with 300,000 books. McMurtry offers opinions on everything from bookplates and audiobooks to the cyber revolution and 1950s paperbacks: 'Paperback covers, many very sexy, were the advance guard of the rapid breakdown of sexual restraint among the middle classes almost everywhere.' While there are anecdotes about bookshops and crafty dealers, McMurtry is at his best when he uses his considerable skills as a writer to recreate moments from his personal past. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In his latest ruminating memoir, a low-key, shambling gathering of pithy essays, McMurtry recounts his adventures collecting comics, penny dreadfuls, pulp fiction, travel writing, and rare books, and setting up his bookstores." Booklist
"A pleasant amble in Bookland and a treat for the bookishly inclined, as well as for McMurtry buffs." Kirkus Reviews
McMurtry, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, returns with a fascinating and surprisingly intimate memoir of his lifelong passion of buying, selling, and collecting rare and antiquarian books.
About the Author
Larry McMurtry, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is the author of twenty-six novels, three collections of essays, two memoirs, more than thirty screenplays, and is the editor of a collection of short stories of the modern West. He lives in Archer City, Texas.