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Honoring Larry McMurtry

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Photo by: 
Paula Bosse

“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.”
― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove (spoken by Augustus McCrae)


Larry McMurtry passed away last week, and although the mortality of a literary icon in his mid-80s might have seemed inevitable, one could not help but be sidelined by the news as there was always something of an eternal spirit in this consummate man of letters; a spirit that will most certainly live on in his contributions to literature, film, TV and bookselling. That last one might seem a little incongruent to the rest, but Larry was as passionate about collecting and selling books as he was about writing them—so much so that he ran or owned some 26 book shops throughout his writing career. In 1988 he relocated and expanded his last and most famous bookstore, Booked Up, from Washington DC to the small, North Texas town of Archer City—the town where he grew up, inspiration for his fictional town Thalia where many of his novels are set, and probably best known as the filming location for the big screen adaptation of his novel The Last Picture Show. At its peak, Booked Up held one of the largest selections of rare and collectible books in the US, occupying four buildings around the town square and housing some 450,000 volumes of every subject imaginable under the relentless Texas sun. I made annual pilgrimages to Booked Up throughout the 2000s and had the great pleasure of meeting Larry on a few of these occasions, once even spending an afternoon at his home with friends, drinking iced tea, shooting the breeze and perusing the stacks of his own, quite impressive private collection. His own novels are, of course, celebrated character studies that offer unromantic depictions of life on the American West and in contemporary small-town Texas—there is not much I can say that hasn’t already been said about those, but his paean to book collecting, Books: A Memoir is a must read for any bibliophile. 

In his 2006 Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, Larry McMurtry made it a point to thank booksellers: "From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world … all are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book. A wonderful culture, which we mustn't lose.” It is our great pleasure as booksellers and book lovers, to return the favor and celebrate the life and work of a Texas legend.

Books: A Memoir Cover Image
$18.70
ISBN: 9781416583356
Availability: Backordered
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 14th, 2009

Thalia: A Texas Trilogy Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781631493751
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - September 19th, 2017

Lonesome Dove: A Novel Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9781439195260
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 15th, 2010

The Last Picture Show Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781631493591
Availability: NOT IN STOCK - Usually arrives in 7 - 14 business days
Published: Liveright - March 20th, 2018

Streets Of Laredo: A Novel Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780684857534
Availability: NOT IN STOCK - Usually arrives in 7 - 14 business days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 17th, 2000

Comanche Moon: A Novel Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780684857558
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 17th, 2000

All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781631493577
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - May 29th, 2018

Horseman, Pass By Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781631493553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - March 20th, 2018

Terms of Endearment: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780684853901
Availability: NOT IN STOCK - Usually arrives in 7 - 14 business days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 4th, 1999