Synopses & Reviews
A fictional retelling of Wyatt Earp’s and Doc Holliday’s remarkable friendship, The Last Kind Words Saloon
is a loving tribute to the Old West. Tracing their rich, varied lives from the town of Long Grass to Buffalo Bill’s show in Denver, then from Mobetie, Texas, to Tombstone, Arizona, where the story dramatically culminates in the famed gunfight at the OK Corral, Larry McMurtry’s first novel in five years is a vivid pastiche that echoes many of his earlier works, including his Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove
. The men—legendary gunslingers, cattle ranchers, Indians, even an English baron—are especially potent, while the women are both fiery and long-suffering, running brothels, counting cattle, and breaking horses with the best of them. Together they tell the story of forging a new civilization where only lawlessness had prevailed. By turns hilarious, captivating, and ultimately tragic, The Last Kind Words Saloon
celebrates the genius of one of our most original American writers.
“McMurtry is an alchemist who converts the basest materials to gold.”—New York Times Book Review “McMurtry can transform ordinary words into highly lyrical, poetic passages. He presents human dramas with sympathy and compassion that make us care about his characters in ways that most novelists can’t.”—Los Angeles Times
"By turns droll, stark, wry, or raunchy, this peripatetic novel...will satisfy many readers who long for more from literary icon McMurtry." New York Times Book Review
" is never dull, and it's also very funny. As always, McMurtry's characters are plain-spoken but subtle and full of dry humor... Moseying along with McMurtry is always worthwhile." Keddy Ann Outlaw Library Journal
" is a beautiful, dreamy, deeply melancholy book, connecting legend and disparate threads of history in a seamless pastiche of tall tales drawn against the context of their real circumstances." Adam Wong Seattle Times
"In this 'ballad in prose,' as McMurtry describes his latest book, he paints the familiar historical characters in unfamiliar ways... lovely." Nathan Pensky The Onion
"A deftly narrated, often comically subversive work of fiction... If is a chronicle of the cattle-driving West that contains within its vast, broad ranges a small but heartrending intimate tragedy of paternal neglect, is a dark postmodernist modernist comedy." Richard Eisenberg People
"Larry McMurtry possesses one of the most engaging, tempting-to-imitate voices in contemporary American fiction, a voice so smooth and mellow you can almost hear the ice clink against the glass as he talks." Max Byrd
"Those who enjoy McMurtry's rueful humor and understated tone of elegiac melancholy will devour the book in one setting." Joyce Carol Oates New York Review of Books
"[A] wildly worthy addition to the best art books of 2014... is a superb read..." Michael Lindgren Washington Post
Opening in the settlement of Long Grass, Texas not quite in Kansas, and nearly New Mexico we encounter the taciturn Wyatt, whiling away his time in between bottles, and the dentist-turned-gunslinger Doc, more adept at poker than extracting teeth. Now hailed as heroes for their days of subduing drunks in Abilene and Dodge more often with a mean look than a pistol Wyatt and Doc are living out the last days of a way of life that is passing into history, two men never more aware of the growing distance between their lives and their legends.
Along with Wyatt's wife, Jessie, who runs the titular saloon, we meet Lord Ernle, an English baron; the exotic courtesan San Saba, "the most beautiful whore on the plains"; Charlie Goodnight, the Texas Ranger turned cattle driver last seen in McMurtry's Comanche Moon, and Nellie Courtright, the witty and irrepressible heroine of Telegraph Days.
McMurtry traces the rich and varied friendship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday from the town of Long Grass to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Denver, then to Mobetie, Texas, and finally to Tombstone, Arizona, culminating with the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral, rendered here in McMurtry's stark and peerless prose.
With the buffalo herds gone, the Comanche defeated, and vast swaths of the Great Plains being enclosed by cattle ranches, Wyatt and Doc live on, even as the storied West that forged their myths disappears. As harsh and beautiful, and as brutal and captivating as the open range it depicts, The Last Kind Words Saloon celebrates the genius of one of our most original American writers.
A Best Book of 2014 The triumphant return of Larry McMurtry with this ballad in prose: his heartfelt tribute to a bygone era of the American West.
Larry McMurtry has done more than any other living writer to shape our literary imagination of the American West. With he returns again to the vivid and unsparing portrait of the nineteenth-century and cowboy lifestyle made so memorable in his classic . Evoking the greatest characters and legends of the Old Wild West, here McMurtry tells the story of the closing of the American frontier through the travails of two of its most immortal figures: Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
About the Author
Born and raised in Texas, Larry McMurtry is an award-winning novelist, essayist, Oscar-winning screenwriter, and avid book collector. His novels include The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove. He lives in Archer City, Texas.