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Larry McMurtry dies at 84

Mar 31, 2021

"'It ain't dying I'm talking about, it's living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.'" -Augustus McCrae, Lonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry, often referred to as the novelist of the American West, died Thursday, March 25 at home in Archer City, Texas, at the age of 84 years, from congestive heart failure.

With more than 60 works to his name spanning a five-decade career, this prolific author offered an alternative albeit realistic view of the American West, one less focused on the romantic notion of the heroic cowboy, more bringing to light the end days of the Old West and the perpetual decline of once-bustling towns.

Perhaps his most notable work, Lonesome Dove, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986. The 843-page novel about two retired Texas Rangers leading a herd of stolen cattle from The Rio Grande to Miles City, Montana, was made into a popular television mini-series in 1989. He penned other such titles as The Last Picture Show, Horesman, Pass By, Terms of Endearment, and Texasville, which were also all adapted for the big screen.

McMurtry was a talented novelist; however, roughly half of his written works were screenplays. Along with his longtime writing and life partner, Diana Ossana, they adapted Annie Proulx's short story Brokeback Mountain into one of the biggest and most controversial films of the 2000s.

His love for the written word was not complete with novels and screenplays. Completing the trifecta: he was an antiquarian bookseller. Booked Up opened in the early 1970s in Washington, D.C., with three other locations to follow. His bookstore in Archer City, Texas, once occupied six buildings and housed 400,000 volumes, give or take a few. Present day, only the Archer City location remains open.

Have a gander through OPL's collection to see what works of this late, great author will be next on your to-be-read list.