It’s a state of mind.
The Love Song of Larry J. McMurtry: The Last Picture Show
by Greg Giddings
In 1966, Larry McMurtry (in)famously dedicated his third novel with these words: “The Last Picture Show is lovingly dedicated to my home town.” Both readers and commentators through the years have assumed that McMurtry was speaking ironically in that dedication, as McMurtry’s description of Thalia, the novel’s fictionalized name for Archer City, is hardly flattering. In fact, Lera Patrick Tyler Lich, author of Larry McMurtry’s Texas: Evolution of Myth, claims that
“The Last Picture Show was written at least in part to expel the hostility [McMurtry] felt for Archer City. Even though the stimulus for writing this novel may have been a recent visit to his hometown, an antipathy toward Archer City had existed for years. His experiences there as a youth and in urban San Francisco and Houston as an adult produced a bitter realism…”
Read more of Giddings’ The Love Song of Larry J. McMurtry>
McMurtry opens up to the Writers Workshop
by the workshop writers, Introduction by Bill Marvel
There was some irony in the occasion. Just months before, this had been the setting in which Larry McMurtry’s big dream, to turn Archer City into a book town, gave way to reality in what amounted to a gigantic going-out-of-business sale. After the final bang of the auctioneer’s gavel, the packing up, the slam of trunk lids and car doors, the town would be down to its last book store, Booked Up #1. That’s where on a hot July afternoon Archer City’s most famous citizen graciously took his place at a table to face a small but eager group of students, writers and would-be writers.
“Here I am,” he said, “to address your curiosity.” Read the whole McMurtry interview, McMurtry in Twilight>
Larry McMurtry didn’t make Archer City. The town, in fact, has formed Larry and his stories throughout his life. But Larry’s presence here is immense, both professionally and personally. See all sides of one of America’s greatest writers and how he and the town will be eternally bound together even when they’ve been at odds.
George Getschow, the Mayborn’s writer-in-residence and Archer City Workshop founder, wrote about how McMurtry’s ranching heritage shaped the writer.
IDIOT RIDGE – It looks like any other cattle gate in west Texas — crude and rough as the ranch behind it. A rusted stirrup, the ranch brand, is mounted on top, and its white paint is rigid and cracked like the ground beneath.
But this is no ordinary gate.
Read more of Getschow’s The Rancher & the Writer> (reproduced from Spurs of Inspiration)
by Nicole Holland Pearce (AC ’10)
There he is. A small, rumpled figure unloading books from a sea of boxes, throwing out volumes, piling others on top of themselves. It is methodic. Bookshelves surround him, stretching from floor to ceiling. He stands in the center of them, near a large table, which is also filled with books overflowing to the floor. I walked up behind him on the balls of my feet—I’m not sure if he wants any company. His light gray hair tufts ungraciously on his head, and thick plastic eyeglasses lie across his nose. On a stark white strip of paper, taped on their side, it reads, Mr. McMurtry.
Read more of Pearce’s The Bookkeeper>
(reproduced from Chirp)
Coming next: More sides of Archer City’s most famous son.