A Second Memoir
Pulitzer Prize–winner Larry McMurtry follows up his memoir Books with this engrossing and deeply personal reflection on the life of a writer.
Larry McMurtry is that rarest of artists, a prolific and genre-transcending writer who has delighted generations with his witty and elegant prose. In Literary Life, the sequel to Books, he expounds on the private trials and triumphs of being a writer. From his earliest inkling of his future career while at Rice University, to his tenure as a Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford with Ken Kesey in 1960, to his incredible triumphs as a bestselling author, this intimate and charming autobiography is replete with literary anecdotes and packed with memorable observations about writing, writers, and the author himself. It is a work to be cherished not only by McMurtry’s admirers, but by the innumerable aspiring writers who seek to make their own mark on American literature.
In this, the second of three planned memoirs, McMurtry takes a laconic look back over a life in letters that now includes some 40 books and an equal number of screenplays. Best known for the popular movies made from his novels, including Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, McMurtry also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain and served two terms as the president of American PEN. This makes for a lot of literary living, and McMurtry reminisces about interactions with such luminaries as Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, and John Updike, as well as lesser-known figures like Michael Korda and Grover Lewis. Throughout his career, McMurtry has mostly written about his native Texas and the American West, and the early chapters provide a fascinating look into the artistic development of smalltown boy into writer during the 1950s and 1960s. Further on, the book declines into a series of hit-and-miss literary anecdotes, with McMurtry's side business as a bookseller providing many of the highlights. McMurtry's understated style is charming and deceptively sophisticated, although at times it is so laconic as to lack a pulse. Still, the old master proves entertaining.