Monday, June 15, 2009

Lonesome Dove

So I'm 20 years behind on this phenomenon, but it has waited patiently for me. What a fine book! Not fancy except in its panorama, not sophisticated except in its characters, not exotic except in its elevation of the cliched American West. I recall shunning Larry McMurtry because he was too popular. Ah, youth. I can't imagine writing a novel this profound and this popular, this accessible. Every character grows over time, and eventually shows even a sliver of humanity or fatefulness that allows the reader to empathize with them (except, perhaps, Blue Duck, the murderous, rapacious soulless Indian outlaw, who kills everything in his past).

About halfway through the book I started sensing there was something beyond cowboy camraderies to Call and Gus' relationship: it is essentially a chaste gay marriage that they call the Lonesome Dove Ranch.

The TV mini-series is wonderful, too. Producation values are a little tacky, a little late-80s, but what are you going to do with on a mini-series budget? Robert Duval absolutely nails Gus, and Tommy Lee Jones is excellent as the stony, silent Call. Ricky Schroeder (!) is impressive as the young boy Newt.

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