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McMurtry revisits American West in newest book

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm •  Published: May 7, 2014

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.

"'Lonesome Dove' was an effort to kind of demythologize the myth of the Old West, but it kind of came to people won't let you. They're going to twist it into something romantic no matter what you do."

McMurtry spoke Wednesday night — in what likely will be his only public appearance for the book — as part of the Dallas Museum of Art's "Arts & Letters Live" speakers series.

He divides his time between Tucson, Arizona, and Archer City, a wind-swept town with a population of about 1,800 located about 140 miles northwest of Dallas. "My gig in Dallas is my book tour for this one," he said.

Beth Wasson, who attended the museum event, said she couldn't miss an opportunity to see one of her favorite authors in person. She said she enjoys his books for his character development and is in awe of his ability to write about both modern day and the Old West. "Just the titles of his books tell a story," she said.

"The Last Kind Words Saloon" features historical figures including Earp, Holliday, Buffalo Bill Cody and Charles Goodnight, along with fictional characters such as journalist Nellie Courtright, who appeared in his novel "Telegraph Days." McMurtry said he enjoys revisiting characters, including Earp and Holliday.

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