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Author Topic: Leaving Cheyenne - Larry McMurtry  (Read 2944 times)
delboy
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« on: July 29, 2010, 08:40:56 AM »

Leaving Cheyenne - Larry McMurtry

I don't know... as I get older maybe my tastes are changing. I no longer listen to Hendrix as much as I used to, although when I do I still love him. It's just I'd rather drop some mellow jazz into my CD player these days. The same thing seems to be happening with my reading... I appear to be moving towards the mainstream, towards the classics, and towards writers who tell stories about people without the need of external hooks - murders and monsters and so on. Of course, when I pick up a MacDonald or a Parker or a King I still love them. But books like Leaving Cheyenne just move me in an altogether different way. And it's a way I'm really starting to like.

Leaving Cheyenne, written back in the early 1960s, is a simple tale of three rural Texas folk - Gideon, a ranch owner, Johnny, a free-spirited cowboy, and Molly the girl that they both love, and who bears them each a son. In three parts, each set twenty years apart (from the 1920s, through to the 60s), and each from one of the main character's viewpoints, we follow their lives. And that's pretty much the plot. But it's so much more. It's full of love and heartbreak and revelations about the passing of time and of life. It's about what's truly important and it's about loss. Above all, it's a simple and beautiful tale. There are set pieces that shed light on life in Texas in the 20s - cattle drives and drunken nights in cowtowns, chasing down coyotes, carwrecks, fights, and many more.  There are countless moments of beautiful description. But most of all, it's just as if McMurtry has pulled aside a curtain and let us look upon these characters for a while, and in seeing their lives, helps us reflect upon our own.

Reading the reviews on Amazon this is one of those novels that divides opinion. I've read a few of McMurtry's books - Lonesome Dove is his most famous (but The Last Picture Show and Terms Of Endearment are both pretty well known too) - and have always been highly impressed. His ouput is staggeringly huge, and reading about him online a few of the first drafts were apparantly written in a matter of three or four weeks. I guess, McMutry is one of those who was simply born to write. I will certainly be reading as manay of his books as I can. It may be that I've found a new author to add to my small list of favourite favourites.

All of this has got me to wondering if perhaps the reason I've struggled with writing recently is that I'm still trying to write the stuff that I used to read. Maybe it's time for my writing to move on, too?

Damn this getting old!

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 09:26:06 AM »

I've had a similar revelation, only mine is in regards to genre.  I love horror and it use to be the only thing I'd read.  I now find myself reaching out to Sci-Fi, romance, and suspense.  I think it has improved my writing, but now I have a hard time defining the genre I write in
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 03:59:57 PM »

WOW.... Just the other day I was watching my 3 month old son sleep and I was wondering where time went. The amount of time gone by, life gone by. You tend to wonder was it all worth it.... where I am...what I've lost. All you can do is try not to make the same mistakes again.
And there he was sleeping like an angel getting vital rest before the shit of the world.

I look forward to reading 'Leaving Cheyenne'
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 05:02:32 PM »

I appear to be moving towards the mainstream, towards the classics, and towards writers who tell stories about people without the need of external hooks - murders and monsters and so on. Of course, when I pick up a MacDonald or a Parker or a King I still love them. But books like Leaving Cheyenne just move me in an altogether different way. And it's a way I'm really starting to like.

Do you ever get the impression that there are 'genre' writers who add fantastic elements as a sort of afterthought? Examples: Robert McCammon's Boy's Story or Bradbury's Death is a Lonely Business?

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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 03:48:45 AM »

Not sure about Boy's Story, Calenture. The only McCammon I've ever read is Sawn Song. But although it's probably 25 years since I read Death Is A Lonely Business and my memory might be flawed you could be onto something. I do recall really enjoying the book but waiting... and waiting... for the fantastic elements.

I should read some more Bradbury. Some of his short stories are amongst my favourites. The October Game was awesome. I'm not sure if he coined the phrase The Butterfly Effect but his story in which he deals with it is great. There's the one about the school kids on the planet where it rains only once every seven years and they lock the girl in the cupboard. There are loads...

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2010, 04:31:25 PM »

Not sure about Boy's Story

Took me awhile to get back. Story of my life these days. When I read your review here, it immediately struck a chord.

Quote
...It's full of love and heartbreak and revelations about the passing of time and of life. It's about what's truly important and it's about loss. Above all, it's a simple and beautiful tale. There are set pieces that shed light on life in Texas in the 20s - cattle drives and drunken nights in cowtowns, chasing down coyotes, carwrecks, fights, and many more.  There are countless moments of beautiful description. But most of all, it's just as if McMurtry has pulled aside a curtain and let us look upon these characters for a while, and in seeing their lives, helps us reflect upon our own.

A number of times now I've picked up a book by a writer I know best for crime, horror fiction or SF, then found I was reading about something quite different. But I enjoyed the book anyway. Thomas Tessier's Phantoms was marketed as a horror novel, but really it's about childhood, a child's perception of the world (which sometimes is scary, sure, but the part of the book I remember is about the old drunk, the child's friend,  who runs out of space in his caravan when it fills with empty beer cans and takes to living in his car).

I read a borrowed copy of McCammon's Boy's Life and anything I wrote about it would have been in the days before Windows. But I remember it as, again, a book about looking back to childhood. McCammon writes this about it:

Quote
But Boy's Life is certainly not about darkness alone. It is not a celebration of evil, nor a paean to lost innocence. Rather, Boy's Life is a journey through a particular time when the world stood on the threshold of great changes and achievements. Boy's Life is first and foremost about people, as seen through the eyes of a young Southern boy; some of these people I knew, some of them I wish I had known. This is where fiction and biography get all mixed and mingled, and what was real and what was wished share the borderland of imagination.

I am probably prouder of Boy's Life than of any book I've ever done...

That quote is taken from here

W W Jacobs' Dialstone Lane is another one, basically a series of connected short stories about the people living in one street, funny and charming. I've no idea how many genre writers work outside of genre fiction, but the results often seem to be well worth reading. I've slightly 'mutated' your thread, delboy... but I hope not too badly.

Rog

 

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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2010, 05:28:58 PM »



A number of times now I've picked up a book by a writer I know best for crime, horror fiction or SF, then found I was reading about something quite different. But I enjoyed the book anyway. Thomas Tessier's Phantoms was marketed as a horror novel, but really it's about childhood, a child's perception of the world (which sometimes is scary, sure, but the part of the book I remember is about the old drunk, the child's friend,  who runs out of space in his caravan when it fills with empty beer cans and takes to living in his car).


Rog

 

I remember Cloudy, from Phantoms afro That's one of the cool things about Borderlands Bootcamp -- you actually get to talk to authors like Thomas Tessier and F Paul Wilson on the course. Thomas Tessier was there the year before the one I attended.

True, though, it seems to me the genre part of a story is often just a small part of a much broader story.
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