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The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry

The Last Kind Words Saloon

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The publishers dub this a ‘ballad in prose’ and that’s exactly how it feels. We meet ageing Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday outside the Last Kind Words Saloon in Long Grass as an English lord is buying a rancher’s cattle and catching up with a Turkish beauty. The British press, The Times no less, has sent a correspondent and Buffalo Bill lands up with his ‘mistress’ Nellie Courtright who has a telegram for the lord from the “President himself”. Just outside town a band of Kiowa Indians massacre and torture six white men. This is classic Wild West territory portrayed with a slight tongue-in-cheek, even down to the OK Corral. Evocative, written in sparse, staccato prose, it is a delight.

If you like Larry McMurtry you might also like to read books by Thomas Eidson, Philip Meyer and Zane Grey.

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The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry

The triumphant return of Larry McMurtry with this ballad in prose: his heartfelt tribute to a bygone era of the American West. Larry McMurtry has done more than any other living writer to shape our literary imagination of the American West. With The Last Kind Words Saloon, he returns to the vivid and unsparing portrait of the nineteenth-century and cowboy lifestyle made so memorable in his classic Lonesome Dove. Evoking the greatest characters and legends of the Old Wild West, McMurtry tells the story of the closing of the American frontier through the travails of two of its most immortal figures: Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Long Grass, Texas. Once hailed as heroes for their days of subduing drunks in Abilene and Dodge - more often with a mean look than a pistol - the taciturn Wyatt now idles away his time between bottles, while the dentist-turned-gunslinger Doc is more adept at poker than extracting teeth. With the buffalo herds gone, the Comanche defeated, and vast swaths of the Great Plains enclosed by cattle ranches, Wyatt and Doc live on, even as the storied West that forged their myths disappears. McMurtry traces the rich and varied friendship of the heroic pair from the town of Long Grass to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Denver, then to Mobetie, Texas, and finally to Tombstone, Arizona, culminating with the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral, rendered here in McMurtry's stark and peerless prose. As harsh and beautiful, and as brutal and captivating as the open range it depicts, The Last Kind Words Saloon celebrates the genius of one of the most original American writers.


'Larry McMurtry possesses one of the most engaging, tempting-to-imitate voices in contemporary American fiction, a voice so smooth and mellow you can almost hear the ice clink against the glass as he talks' New York Times Book Review

'By turns droll, stark, wry, or raunchy, this peripatetic novel...will satisfy many readers who long for more from literary icon' McMurtry Library Journal

'[The Last Kind Words Saloon] is never dull, and it's also very funny. As always, McMurtry's characters are plain-spoken but subtle and full of dry humour ... Moseying along with McMurtry is always worthwhile' Seattle Times

'The Last Kind Words Saloon is a beautiful, dreamy, deeply melancholy book, connecting legend and disparate threads of history in a seamless pastiche of tall tales drawn against the context of their real circumstances' The Onion

'In this ballad in prose as McMurtry describes his latest book, he paints the familiar historical characters in unfamiliar ways ... lovely' People

'A deftly narrated, often comically subversive work of fiction ... If Lonesome Dove is a chronicle of the cattle-driving West that contains within its vast, broad ranges a small but heartrending intimate tragedy of paternal neglect, The Last Kind Words Saloon is a dark postmodernist modernist comedy' Joyce Carol Oates New York Review of Books

About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. He has also written memoirs and essays, and received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Brokeback Mountain. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Larry McMurtry

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Action Adventure / Spy
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