New York Times Bestseller
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Seattle Times
The Last Kind Words Saloon marks the triumphant return of Larry McMurtry to the nineteenth-century West of his classic Lonesome Dove.
In this "comically subversive work of fiction" (Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books), Larry McMurtry chronicles the closing of the American frontier through the travails of two of its most immortal figures, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Tracing their legendary friendship from the settlement of Long Grass, Texas, to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Denver, and finally to Tombstone, Arizona, The Last Kind Words Saloon finds Wyatt and Doc living out the last days of a cowboy lifestyle that is already passing into history. In his stark and peerless prose McMurtry writes of the myths and men that live on even as the storied West that forged them disappears. Hailed by critics and embraced by readers, The Last Kind Words Saloon celebrates the genius of one of our most original American writers.
McMurtry of Lonesome Dove fame returns to fiction (after Custer) with this uneven portrayal of the frontier friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. McMurtry is a master of colorful character development and snappy dialogue, both nicely showcased here as Wyatt and Doc meander through Texas and Colorado to Arizona, drinking, gambling, whoring, and debating whether or not they ought to shoot folks who annoy them. As these two lethal saddle pals wander the West, McMurtry introduces other real-life figures in side-plots cattleman Charlie Goodnight; Quanah, the Comanche chief; Satanta, the Kiowa chief; and Buffalo Bill, whose adventures provide some action and humor, but add little to the Earp-Holliday story. McMurtry portrays Doc as a cuddly, funny drunk, but Wyatt is handled much differently. Here Wyatt is depicted as a moody, jealous wife beater, short-tempered and itching to pick a fight with anybody especially Old Man Clanton and his cattle-thieving family in Tombstone, Ariz. When Wyatt stirs up a fight with the Clantons, an ambush, murder, and a challenge result in deadly powder burning at the O.K. Corral. This whole choppy story leads up to the predictable shoot-out, but McMurtry's treatment of the Old West's most famous gunfight is abrupt and unconvincing, taking just eight uninspired sentences to describe. This revisionist western plays loose with historical facts, and is a disappointing effort from a Pulitzer Prize winning author.