A Larry McMurtry Primer

Five books that best capture the author’s writing.

larry mcmurtry book primer
Alta

Larry McMurtry (1936–2021) published more than 40 books of fiction and nonfiction during his lifetime. He won a 1986 Pulitzer Prize for his novel Lonesome Dove, and he shared the 2006 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay with Diana Ossana for their work on Brokeback Mountain. Here are five McMurtry titles not to miss.

1 THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1966)
the last picture show, larry mcmurtry
Liveright

A searing, deeply moving novel of life in a small Texas town in the moment before everything changes—for better and for worse.

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2 IN A NARROW GRAVE: ESSAYS ON TEXAS (1968)
in a narrow grave, essays on texas, larry mcmurtry
Liveright

An essential look at the culture—literary and otherwise—of Texas and a ruthless deconstruction of the mythologies of the West.

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3 MOVING ON (1970)
moving on, larry mcmurtry
Liveright

This epic novel introduces the characters Patsy Carpenter and Emma Horton and examines, with surgical precision, both the possibilities and the limitations of their lives in 1960s Houston.

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4 ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO BE STRANGERS (1972)
all my friends are going to be strangers, larry mcmurtry
Liveright

It’s tricky to write a novel about a novelist, but McMurtry pulls it off here with a kind of brilliant brio, reveling in the restlessness of his protagonist, Danny Deck.

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5 LONESOME DOVE (1985)
lonesome dove, larry mcmurtry
Simon & Schuster

Perhaps the best known of McMurtry’s novels, this book marks a backtracking for the author, who moves away from his explorations of contemporary Texas and into its more mythic past.

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