Larry McMurtry

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Larry McMurtry
Born Larry Jeff McMurtry
(1936-06-03) June 3, 1936 (age 81)
Archer City, Texas, U.S.
Education University of North Texas
Rice University
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter, essayist, bookseller
Years active 1961–present

Larry Jeff McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller, and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas.[1] His novels include Horseman, Pass By (1962), The Last Picture Show (1966) and Terms of Endearment (1975), which were adapted into films earning 26 Academy Award nominations (10 wins). His 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove was adapted into a television miniseries that earned 18 Emmy Award nominations (seven wins), with the other three novels in his Lonesome Dove series adapted into three more miniseries, earning eight more Emmy nominations. McMurtry and cowriter Diana Ossana adapted the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain (2005), which earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including McMurtry and Ossana for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Early life

McMurtry was born in Archer City, Texas, 25 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas, the son of Hazel Ruth (née McIver) and William Jefferson McMurtry, who was a rancher.[2] He grew up on a ranch outside Archer City, which is the model for the town of Thalia that appears in much of his fiction. He earned degrees from the University of North Texas (B.A. 1958) and Rice University (M.A. 1960).

McMurtry states in his memoir that he spent his first five or six years in his grandfather's house on a ranch without books, but his extended family would sit on the front porch every night and tell stories. In 1942, when his cousin Robert Hilburn on his way to enlist for World War II stopped by the ranch house and left a box containing 19 books, he began to read. The books were standard boys' adventure tales of the 1930s, and he read them to tatters. The first book he read was Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout.[3]

Career

Writer

During the 1960-1961 academic year, McMurtry was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he studied the craft of fiction under Frank O'Connor and Malcolm Cowley alongside a number of other writers, including Ken Kesey, Peter S. Beagle, and Gurney Norman; Stegner himself was on sabbatical in Europe during McMurtry's fellowship year.

McMurtry and Kesey remained friends after McMurtry left California and returned to Texas to take a year-long composition instructorship at Texas Christian University. In 1963, he returned to Rice University, where he served as a lecturer in English until 1969; his initial students were entertained with stories of Hollywood and the filming of Hud for which he was consulting. In 1964, Kesey's famous cross-country trip with his Merry Pranksters in the day-glo-painted school bus Furthur, chronicled in Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, included a stop at McMurtry's home in Houston. That same year, McMurtry was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

McMurtry has won the Jesse H. Jones Award from the Texas Institute of Letters on three occasions: in 1962, for Horseman, Pass By; in 1967, for The Last Picture Show, which he shared with Tom Pendleton's The Iron Orchard; and in 1986, for Lonesome Dove. He has also won the Amon G. Carter award for periodical prose in 1966, for Texas: Good Times Gone or Here Again?.[4][5] In 1986, McMurtry received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. The Helmerich Award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.

McMurtry described his method for writing novels in Books: A Memoir. He says that from his first novel on he would get up early and dash off five pages of narrative. At the time of publication of the memoir in 2008, he stated that it was still his method, although by then he was up to dashing off 10 pages a day. He also writes every day, ignoring holidays and weekends.[6]

McMurtry has been a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books[7] and is a past president of PEN.[8][9][10]

Used bookstore businesses

While at Stanford, McMurtry became a rare-book scout, and during his years in Houston, managed a book store there called the Bookman. In 1969, he moved to the Washington, DC, area, and in 1970 with two partners started a bookshop in Georgetown which he named Booked Up. In 1988, he opened another Booked Up in Archer City, which is one of the largest used bookstores in the United States, carrying between 400,000 and 450,000 titles. Citing economic pressures from internet bookselling, McMurtry came close to shutting down the Archer City store in 2005, but chose to keep it open after an outpouring of public support.

In early 2012, McMurtry decided to downsize and sell off the greater portion of his inventory. He made the decision as he felt the collection was a liability for his heirs.[11] The auction was conducted on August 10 and 11, 2012, and was overseen by Addison and Sarova Auctioneers of Macon, Georgia. This epic book auction sold books by the shelf, and was billed as "The Last Booksale" in keeping with the title of McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. Dealers, collectors, and gawkers came out en masse from all over the country to witness this historic auction. As stated by Mr. McMurtry on the weekend of the sale, "I've never seen that many people lined up in Archer City, and I'm sure I never will again."

One of McMurtry's bookstores in Archer City, Texas
Just one of the dozens of aisles of books at Booked Up in Archer City
Leo the store cat at Booked Up in Archer City, March 29, 2010

Movies

McMurtry is perhaps best known for the film adaptations of his work, especially Hud (from the novel Horseman, Pass By), starring Paul Newman and Patricia Neal; the Peter Bogdanovich–directed The Last Picture Show; James L. Brooks's Terms of Endearment, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture (1984); and Lonesome Dove, which became a popular television miniseries starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall.

In 2006, he was cowinner (with Diana Ossana) of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. He accepted his Oscar wearing jeans and cowboy boots along with his dinner jacket, and used his speech to promote books by reminding his audience that "Brokeback Mountain" was a short story by E. Annie Proulx before it was a movie. In his Golden Globe acceptance speech, he paid tribute to his Swiss-made Hermes 3000 typewriter.

Personal life

His former wife, Jo Scott McMurtry, an English professor, is also the author of five books. Their son, James McMurtry, and grandson Curtis McMurtry are singer/songwriters and guitarists. On May 5, 2011, The Dallas Morning News reported that McMurtry married Norma Faye Kesey on April 29 in a civil ceremony in Archer City. She is the widow of writer Ken Kesey.[12]

Fiction

[citation needed]

Standalone novels

  • 1982: Cadillac Jack
  • 1988: Anything For Billy (fictionalized biography of Billy the Kid)
  • 1990: Buffalo Girls (fictionalized biography of Calamity Jane) - adapted for TV as Buffalo Girls
  • 1994: Pretty Boy Floyd (with Diana Ossana) (fictionalised biography of titular gangster)
  • 1997: Zeke and Ned (with Diana Ossana) (fictionalized biography of the last Cherokee warriors)
  • 2000: Boone's Lick
  • 2005: Loop Group
  • 2006: Telegraph Days
  • 2014: The Last Kind Words Saloon

Thalia: A Texas Trilogy

Larry McMurtry's first three novels, all set in the north Texas town of Thalia after World War II

Harmony and Pepper series

The books follow the story of mother/daughter characters Harmony and Pepper

  • 1983: The Desert Rose
  • 1995: The Late Child

Duane Moore series

The books follow the story of character Duane Moore

  • 1966: The Last Picture Show - adapted for film as The Last Picture Show
  • 1987: Texasville - adapted for film as Texasville
  • 1999: Duane's Depressed
  • 2007: When The Light Goes
  • 2009: Rhino Ranch: A Novel

Houston series

The books follow the stories of occasionally recurring characters living in the Houston, Texas, area

  • 1970: Moving On (characters Patsy Carpenter/Danny Deck/Emma Horton/Joe Percy)
  • 1972: All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers (Danny Deck/Jill Peel)
  • 1975: Terms of Endearment (Emma Horton/Aurora Greenaway) - adapted for film as Terms of Endearment
  • 1978: Somebody's Darling (Jill Peel/Joe Percy)
  • 1989: Some Can Whistle (Danny Deck)
  • 1992: The Evening Star (Aurora Greenaway) - adapted for film as The Evening Star

Lonesome Dove series

The Berrybender Narratives

As editor

  • 1999: Still Wild: A Collection of Western Stories

Other writings

Nonfiction

  • 1968: In A Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas
  • 1974: It's Always We Rambled (essay)
  • 1987: Film Flam: Essays on Hollywood
  • 1999: Crazy Horse: A Life (biography)
  • 1999: Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen: Reflections on Sixty and Beyond
  • 2000: Roads: Driving America's Great Highways
  • 2001: Sacagawea's Nickname—essays on the American West
  • 2002: Paradise—South-Pacific travelogue/memoir
  • 2005: The Colonel and Little Missie: Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley & the Beginnings of Superstardom in America
  • 2005: Oh What A Slaughter! : Massacres in the American West: 1846--1890
  • 2008: Books: A Memoir
  • 2009: Literary Life: A Second Memoir
  • 2011: Hollywood: A Third Memoir
  • 2012: Custer

Film

Television

See also

References

  1. ^ Hugh Rawson "Screenings," American Heritage, April/May 2006.
  2. ^ Larry (Jeff) McMurtry Biography (1936-) Early years
  3. ^ McMurtry, Larry (2008). Books: A Memoir. pp. 1–8. 
  4. ^ Texas Institute of Letters- what awards are for
  5. ^ Texas Institute of Letters Complete List of Winners Requires Adobe acrobat
  6. ^ McMurtry, Larry (2008). Books : a memoir (1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 49. ISBN 9781416583349. 
  7. ^ Page on the author, from the New York Review of Books website
  8. ^ "(web page from pen.org about "BOARD OF TRUSTEES HISTORY" for 1989-1990, showing that Larry McMurtry was the President of PEN at that time)". PEN American Center. Archived from the original on 2009-04-26. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  9. ^ "(web page from pen.org about "BOARD OF TRUSTEES HISTORY" for 1990-1991, showing that Larry McMurtry was the President of PEN at that time)". PEN American Center. Archived from the original on 2009-04-26. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  10. ^ the second-to-last paragraph of the "Biographical Sketch" section of the "Larry McMurtry Collection" web page at http://research.hrc.utexas.edu:8080/hrcxtf/view?docId=ead/00470.xml (Retrieved on 2009-April 26)
  11. ^ Lindenberger, Michael (August 15, 2012). "The Great Book Sale of Teas". Time. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Granberry, Michael. "Author Larry McMurtry marries Ken Kesey’s widow," The Dallas Morning News, May 5, 2011.

External links

  • Larry McMurtry Collection, from the Rare Book & Texana Collections, University of North Texas website
  • McMurtry, Larry. "The Author Who Sold Books", Washingtonian, August 1, 2008.
  • Larry McMurtry Papers 1984-1991, from the Texas State University-San Marcos website
  • Larry McMurtry on IMDb
  • Larry McMurtry at DMOZ
  • The Treasure Hunter Michael Dirda review of McMurtry's Books: A Memoir from The New York Review of Books
  • Larry McMurtry screenplays, 1979-1988 and undated, in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University
  • Guide to the Larry McMurtry and Diana Osanna Papers, 1890-2004, in the Woodson Research Center at Rice University
  • New York Times Article regarding "The Last Booksale"
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