Happy Birthday Larry McMurtry!: A Book List

Larry McMurtry's birthday is June 3, so we're celebrating with a list of a few of our favorite Westerns! Not all of these are traditional Westerns –– some subvert the setting, some the cowboy archetype, some the purpose of the protagonist. But they have a sense of landscape that is unique to the Western genre and typified by Larry McMurtry's many novels.

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In the Distance By Hernan Diaz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894883
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Coffee House Press - October 10th, 2017

If you've been in the store in the past six months, you've heard us talk about IN THE DISTANCE. Hernan Diaz's novel takes tropes of the Western genre and turns them on their heads, while maintaining elegance and a unique clarity of vision. Hakan and his brother ship to the US from Sweden, but are separated in England –– one of them ends up in New York, as planned, and the other in San Francisco. What results is a seemingly endless trek as Hakan attempts to reach New York and find his brother against the landscape of 19th century America.

News of the World: A Novel By Paulette Jiles Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409218
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 20th, 2017

No cowboy protagonist here; the main character of Paulette Jiles' captivating book is a professional itinerant who moves around the Texas countryside to read the news to curious audiences. He is paid to transport a young woman back to her family after she has been captured by the Kiowa tribe, and both the landscape and the girl herself prove to be unfamiliar and uncivilized. The duo's resulting bond is tenuous but touching. 

The Gloaming By Melanie Finn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512477
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 20th, 2016

Melanie Finn's protagonist, Pilgrim Jones, must find something out of nothing. After a divorce and a terrible accident, she is ostracized and attempts a safari in Africa as a means of escape. Instead of staying with the group, she sets out on her own in an attempt to cope with a shockingly empty future and a past that has receded from familiarity. This book merges high drama, loss, and violence with the possibility of redemption in an alien landscape.

Train Dreams: A Novella By Denis Johnson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - May 22nd, 2012

A haunting and surreal portrait of a man’s entire life as it interacts with a troubled American century. Johnson’s masterwork is irrefutable proof that no book need be longer than 90 pages.

Thalia: A Texas Trilogy By Larry McMurtry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631493751
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Liveright - September 19th, 2017

We couldn't complete the list without including one by the icon himself! Or rather, three; Thalia collects his first three novels, written at a time when McMurtry was first arriving on the literary scene with his voice already fully formed. Never read McMurtry? This is the perfect place to start. Read everything he's ever written? This striking volume will have you obsessed again.

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