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Friday, June 3, 2022

'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 2021) was the consummate writer of “the perfect first sentence,” and readers rewarded him for it with multiple bestselling novels.  And, viewers have been equally appreciative, flocking to movie adaptations of his many works.


Among his dozens of bestsellers are Horseman, Pass By, The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, and Lonesome Dove.  His movies earned a remarkable 26 Academy Award nominations (10 wins), and Lonesome Dove, adapted into a television miniseries, earned 18 Emmy nominations (7 wins) and a Pulitzer Prize for literature.


While he was known as a rugged “Old West He-Man type,” 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 for Brokeback Mountain.  


A rancher’s son, McMurtry got his first taste of storytelling sitting on his parents’ porch listening to them and their ranchhands telling tales.   That storytelling, he said, left him enamored with the heritage of both Texas and the nation. 


He said he was sometimes discouraged when Americans failed to embrace their 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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