Wednesday, July 16, 2008

With Kim gone to a better place I'm into a McMurtry now

With Kim done his mountain adventures and safely back in the lowlands I've moved on to a McMurtry which actually is "Brilliant. . . funny and dangerously tender" just as the Time cover blurb proclaims.

First "Kim". In a scant 411 small hardbound pages Kipling took me from the heat of Sind to the cold of the Hindu Kush and, more importantly, into the minds of representatives of more than a dozen castes, races and tribes. And he developed Kim from a wild and wily bazaar boy into a disciplined servant of the Raj in The Great Game. Why haven't I systematicly read all of Kipling's work? I've never read one of his that failed to please and satisfy, never listened to one as a book tape that failed to sadden with its ending. I shall plunder Wolfgang Books of every cheap used copy of Kipling the next time we go to Phoenixville for dinner.

Next "All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers." What can one say of McMurtry? His characters really do leap off the page. Danny, it's true, is probably a thinly disguised Larry McMurtry in his much younger days - the book was copyrighted in 1972, but still. . . such a gift to be able to move as effortlessly as McMurtry does from introspection to conversation to preposterous action and all the while hold the reader by the throat.

I've mostly avoided McMurtry's more or less contemporary fiction despite how much I liked "Comanche Moon,""Lonesome Dove," and the other two novels that dealt with Gus, Woodrow, Buffalo Hump, Famous Shoes and Blue Duck. But I think I'll also pillage the McMurtry section at Wolfgang as well when I next get there.

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