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Friday, June 4, 2021

'Nourishing the Imagination'

“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 (who died in March) was the consummate writer of “the perfect first sentence.”   Readers and viewers alike have been appreciative, giving him many, many bestsellers and flocking to movie adaptations of his works.

Among his bestsellers 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.

Known as a rugged “Old West He-Man,” McMurtry was not 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 Brokeback Mountain.  

A rancher’s son, McMurtry got his first taste 
of storytelling while sitting on his parents’ porch 
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, but he said he was sometimes discouraged by Americans’ failure 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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