“You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination.” – Larry McMurtry
Born on this date in 1936, McMurtry is the consummate writer of “the perfect first sentence,” and readers have rewarded him for it with multiple bestselling novels. And, viewers have been equally appreciative, flocking to the movie adaptations of his many works.
Among his dozens of best-sellers are Horseman, Pass By, The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove. His movies have earned a remarkable 26 Academy Award nominations (10 wins), and Lonesome Dove, adapted into a television miniseries, earned 18 Emmy nominations (seven wins) and a Pulitzer Prize for literature.
While he is known as a rugged “Old West He-Man,” McMurtry has not been afraid to write sentimental tomes like Terms of Endearment or stories about alternative lifestyles, like his Academy Award-winning (with co-writer Diana Ossana) screenplay for Brokeback Mountain.
A rancher’s son, McMurtry got his first taste
in the evening and listening to them and ranchhands telling tales. That storytelling, he said, made him enamored with the heritage of his native Texas and, ultimately, the nation, and he said he is sometimes discouraged when Americans’ fail to embrace our nation’s history.
“Backward is just not a natural direction for Americans to look,” he said. “Historical ignorance remains a national characteristic.”
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