Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Larry McMurtry and James Lees-Milne

I replied to a comment by “Atticus C.” and my voluminous drivel was such that Google couldn’t process it. So I figured what the heck, I’ll just post it. So for context, you might want to go to my previous post and read all of Atticus C.’s comments. This is far from a well thought out posting. I simply pasted my stream of consciousness reply to Atticus C. and added a couple of pictures.

“Atticus C. ... Thanks man. You are feeding my focus on McMurtry and Texas. That's how I roll, reading wise. I was on a Flannery O'Connor tear for a month or so last year. Then a Cheever-Updike thing. After I wash McMurtry out of my noggin, I've got some F. Scott Fitz revisits already sitting on the table. And thanks for your suggestions. I shall read them in that particular order.
I read a little bit online about the Archer City/McMurtry angst. Seems that there ain't any middle ground re Larry. People either like him in Archer City or they don't. Some of the shite it seems, comes from people still being ruffled about how Archer was characterized in the Last Picture Show as well as other stories. And some just flat out don't get the guy...because those remaining in Archer City aren't exactly the most "book driven" people walking. It is said that very few people in Archer City actually set foot in his stores.
And another thing...McMurtry says that the diaries of James Lees Milne are the books that he most cherishes and re-reads. Well that right there is enough evidence to let me know that he and Archer City ain't ever gonna exactly love each other in every way--all the time. Milne...a British architectural historian and devotee of aesthetics who could turn words into beautiful characterizations. And McMurtry...the son of true-genuine Texas pioneers and cattle people, some of whom actually worked for Mr. Goodnight (Goodnight-Loving Trail fame). No wonder Archer Citizens are mixed about the man.
Texas...the other reason I want to drive the five hour round trip tomorrow is to see something other than Dallas, Houston and Austin. The Texas stereotype I have in my head is manifest mostly from my business travel experiences to usually Dallas but sometimes Houston. And I know there's more to it than what I've not so positively concluded. Robert Caro helped me understand some of this in his characterization of the Texas Hill Country in the first volume of his LBJ biographical series. McMurtry's books will also help me with that too because certainly one day to Archer City ain't quite gonna gel it.
McMurtry has made a ton of dough writing screenplays so I know he's got some resources. But if you read his autobiographical trilogy, you'll learn that he at heart, is a bookman. A lover of used, new, antiquarian books. But the businessman in me says that he knows that his bookstores in Archer City are not going to survive. They almost closed last year. Thanks Atticus C.”

Onward. To Texas.
ADG II

22 comments:

James said...

I first became aware of McMurtry after seeing Last Picture Show. Since then I have read nearly all of his books. His range is astounding,from Terms of Endearment to Hud (Horsesman, Pass By) to the epics like Lonesome Dove,even co-writing the Brokeback Mountain screenplay.Ain't it nice to see a Texas boy do well?

Pigtown-Design said...

James Lees-Milne... now that an interesting guy... and his wife, too.

Have you read the whole Caro/LBJ trilogy?

Anonymous said...

I am soooo envious of your road trip. Damn.

The restroom is in building 3.

Anonymous Texan said...

McMurtry's best book is "In a Narrow Grave". McMurtry lost me when he failed to acknowledge J. Evetts Haley's "Charles Goodnight, Cowman & Plainsman" 1936 in his "Lonesome Dove". We call it thievin down here.Enuff said.

Main Line Sportsman said...

Hud is one helluva story.It is also one helluva movie.....one of the truly unredeemable pricks that Newman ever played.
Some of my people come from Texas...Dad lived in Nacadoches for several years and got his BS from Stephen Austin...so he was a fan of L.M.
Interesting Post as usual ADG.

Anonymous said...

I love the part of the Literary Life where McMurtry confesses he now reads for security. My sister, my daughter and I also each have a security book--one that we turn to out of boredom, anxiety, or just the comfort of seeing familiar words on a page. Sometimes with those books, it's running the eyes over the page for a zen-like trance instead of reading.

StacyfrPgh

Britt Sudduth said...

If you're going to make it to Houston, would enjoy meeting you and sharing a martini. Have been reading and enjoying your works for some time. I've got lots of TX history to discuss if interested. Kin folk of mine died in the Alamo! Send email with plans to brittsudduth@yahoo.com. See my blog at www.thehouseofriley.blogspot.com. Hope to see you!

Atticus C. said...

Thank you for the reply. It is always fun to have fresh perspective...

Enjoy your trip, and if you ever get down to Ole San Antone let me know. I will give you the dime tour, Alamo and all...

To the Anonymous Texan, Hayley's Book is a Masterpiece and one of my all time favorites...

Flo said...

"The restroom is in building 3."

Best non squirter of this year or last!

100% notgonnahideit flatout ignorant re Larry McMurtry.

Max, you and your commenters are causing me to live my life backwards. My future's so bright!

Gretchen said...

Remember, ADG, there's Dallas and Houston...and then there's Texas. Not that I've anything against D&H, but the rest of the state's where it be at, you see. Godmother from Hill Country tried to get me to move to Houston after college in the late 80s when one could buy a house for pennies, pre-Enron. Shoulda just gone to Austin. Too bad you're not out there for Round Top--the stories you could whip up for us (including new panties tales?!?!). Get well--flying w URI is just plain dangerous

NCJack said...

"..a small library of books I reread..." strikes a chord here. I'll pick up a new history, bio, or other non-fiction now and again, but for fiction, I keep on going back to a comparatively few standards.

Anonymous said...

Not going to survive!

Oh, please......

I've been going to AC every Summer since 1989 to visit the bookstores, which didn't exist then, but why I was there in 1989 is too long a story to tell...

Spoke to McM. one day when he was building shelves in No. 2, I think.

His stuff is pricey, but I am sure you know why he chose AC...the real estate is incredibly cheap. The booknoscenti come here regularly.

Yeah, it is going to survive, but will McM? He is not the pic of health.

A great resource, a bibliophiles Nirvana.

No good places to eat since the Onion Creek Grill bit the dust.

Stay at The Spur Hotel. Call Abby Abernathy, the owner, to make reservations.

Wear your cowboy boots....Belgians will get yer ass kicked.

yoga teacher said...

Oh, come on now, even though I bitch about it all the time, Houston's not so bad. The fancy part even starred in the movie version of "Terms of Endearment." The not-so-fancy part I live in starred in the lackluster follow-up. Though you could certainly wear your Belgains in my neighborhood. Just avoid the suburbs and you'll be fine.

Beefeater said...

As a 7th generation Texan, I thank you for the literary nod, yet apologize for the current state of our political house. I have often thought of leaving but have the same Alamo-esque predisposition to fight until the end or, at least, the end of me, though it is a poor metaphor.

We have given you larger than life visions of "Giant", Cormac McCarthy, Sam Houston, LBJ, etc, yet have the worst literacy rates and some of the worst infant mortality rates in the United States. And let's not forget Tom DeLay, one of the worst human beings to have occupied space on this planet, much less Texas.

Stubborn and ignoble, we go, groping our way forward into an uncertain future of border wars and drug wars. If only cowboy boots, and not belgians, were the solution.

Great blog. Keep writing.

Preppy 101 said...

Hoping I get postcards from you as you make this trek. Love the last photo - reminds me of the little town that grew me in Tennessee. Wonderful post. xoxo

ADG said...

Beefeater...I hear you. It's kinda like going to London only and saying that you've seen and know the United Kingdom. The Houston/Dallas stereotype is so easy to magnify and campaign. That's why I've always respected the depth with which Caro describes the grass in the Texas Hill country in his opening pages of volume one of his LBJ works.

Yogesstra...I've not been to Houston in ages. I do remember being by the pool at the Four Seasons one time and looking around, perplexed by the collateral buildings etc...till someone told me that the zoning laws were non-existent at that time in Houston.

AnonSurvive? McMurtry's own website announced their near demise in 2010. I'm wearing neither cowboy boots or Belgians today. I don't have the stones to wear either of them to Archer City.

NCJack...same here my man.

Gretchen...thanks. I'll be getting on the plane in a little while. We'll see. I don't want to brag but I can breath through my nose and my voice isn't dulcet but it ain't croaky no moe either.

Flo...no "squirter" I'll be stealing that from you please.

Atticus...thanks. I've only been to San Antonio once. And the Alamo was a let down mostly because of what my childhood fantasies conjured. I'm speaking there in 3 weeks. I'll let you know more about where I'm staying etc later.

Britt...thanks man. I enjoyed reading about your Cordovan shoe resurrection and will be keen on seeing the results. I rarely get to Houston for some reason but I'll keep you posted if I do roll in.

StacyPittsburger...I do it all the time. Most of my "comfort re-reads" live on the table beside my bed.

MainLiner...I'm gonna download HUD this weekend.

MegTown...send me a picture of my new glasses! I've read the first two books and a bit of the third...Caro/LBJ. LBJ's daughter came to my house when I was married and spotted the volumes on my bookshelf...that's another story.

AnonTexanHaley's...damn, my reading list continues to expand. Thanks.

James...indeed. I suppose we should be no more astounded that "something" like that could come out of Archer City than anywhere else. But like you, I am.

ADG said...

DARN!!! I just responded to each and every one of you and the url was too large to process...I lost all of it. I'll redo it later.

Flo said...

"DARN!!! I just responded to each and every one of you and the url was too large to process...I lost all of it. I'll redo it later."

Rest easy. It showed up just fine. Better than fine.

"I'm wearing neither cowboy boots or Belgians today. I don't have the stones to wear either of them to Archer City."

Shall we take a guess? Jeans with pick hook belt, blue BBOCBD, the Advent calendar, college Weejuns.

Anonymous said...

Theme song from The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly background......ADG (The Ass, The Donkey, and The Gringo) strides into town....in a swirl of dust kicks open doors of Booked Up....all silence butcept for the lone jangling of spurred up Belgians....2 week beard grow out ......that little red cowboy hat he was sporting to shame LFG....and a Burberry saddle blanket thrown over one shoulder........

Anonymous said...

Note: I would have posited an Hermes or Holland and Holland poncho but those purveyors do not have outlets ......and well, knowing ADG ....

ADG said...

I'm still laughing about the ADG entrance scene for The Ass, The Donkey and The Gringo....brilliant!

Alas, after arriving back home from Dallas last night at 130am, I regret to report that I had to cancel my day trip to Archer City. But I'll be back in Dallas soon and the A.C. trip will be part of the agenda.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

I've been dying to read those Lees-Milne diaries. Glad to hear a biography is due out later this year. I once had a link to him speaking in a never-produced (?) documentary.

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