Leaving Cheyenne by Larry McMurtry

April 23, 2009

leavingcheyennecover-l-mcmurtrayLately I’ve been doing lots of reading. I’m especially interested in reading those authors who focus on character and setting.

I just finished “Leaving Cheyenne” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Larry McMurtry. He wrote “Lonesone Dove” for which he won the Pulitzer for fiction. You may remember it was transformed into the great TV mini-series some years ago starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.

In this his second novel, he tells the tale of three unlikely western heroes. Gideon Fry, a serious rancher; Johnny McCloud, the free-spirited cowboy; and the woman they both love, Molly Taylor.

She loves them both and being independent refuses to marry either one of them. Tragedy follows them as their lives intertwine. The story plus the characters made me want to find out what happens to them. The reader cares deeply about them. Dialogue is used to great effect to advance the plot and define the character traits of each of them.

The tale is set in West Texas around the turn of the twentieth century. McMurtry is so adept at description he doesn’t have to go into long detail. Short but very sweet is an apt way of describing the result.

An extremely satisfying read by a truly great author. As a writer I was thinking “oh to write like this”.


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