McMurtry revisits American West in newest book

Andrew Graybill, director of SMU's Clements Center for Southwest Studies, talks about prize-winning author Larry McMurtry's newest book, "The Last Kind Words Saloon."

The Associated Press

ARCHER CITY, Texas (AP) — Standing among the towering shelves in his bookstore in the small Texas town where he grew up, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry says he has a need to be among books.

"I'm very attached to the books. I need them. I need to be among them," said McMurtry, 77, whose rare and used bookstore in Archer City contains about 200,000 volumes while the library in his nearby home holds about 28,000.

McMurtry is the author of almost 50 books including the novels "Lonesome Dove," ''The Last Picture Show" and "Terms of Endearment," and biographies and essay collections. He has had simultaneous careers as a screenwriter and bookseller.

In his new novel, "The Last Kind Words Saloon," he again takes readers to the American West — this time peeking into the lives of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday as they ramble through Texas, Colorado and Arizona.

"I usually start a book with some notion about a character that I'm curious about or interested in," McMurtry said in an interview. "And I think that's what I did here. I kind of wanted to demythologize" Earp and Holliday. . .

Andrew Graybill, director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, said McMurtry cleverly brings together famous characters of the American West in his new book. "Putting them on the stage together at the same time — I think it's a wonderful way to undercut and subvert these myths," said Graybill, who was to offer comments before the Dallas event.

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