The time is 1925. The place, St. Louis, Missouri. Charley Floyd, a good-looking, sweet-smiling country boy from Oklahoma, is about to rob his first armored car.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry and his writing partner, Diana Ossana, Pretty Boy Floyd traces the wild career of this legendary American folk hero, a young man so charming that it's hard not to like him, even as he's robbing you at gunpoint. From the bank heists and shootings that make him Public Enemy Number One to the women who love him, from the glamour-hungry nation that worships him to the G-men who track Charley down, Pretty Boy Floyd is both a richly comic masterpiece and an American tragedy about the price of fame and the corruption of innocence.
As plain and affecting as a Woody Guthrie ballad, this re-creation of the crooked career of the Depression-era desperado/folk hero is Pulitzer Prize-winner McMurtry's (Lonesome Dove) first collaborative effort; he and screenwriter Ossana originally wrote this story as a filmscript. In 1925, after foolishly paying with (ill-gotten) cash for a brand-new Studebaker and driving home to visit his teenage wife and infant son, 21-year-old Oklahoma farm boy Charles Arthur Floyd is arrested and imprisoned for armed robbery. Released after four years, Floyd loses his new job because he's an ex-con. Arrested twice for vagrancy, he returns to the outlaw life and meets rodeo rider-turned-bandit George Birdwell when both he and Floyd strut in to rob the same bank at the same time. The outlaws embark on a reckless spree marked by small-town heists and artless women until Floyd-captured and convicted but escaped-kills a deputy and Birdwell is shot dead by a bookkeeper during a bank robbery. Heading north, Floyd eventually becomes the quarry of legendary G-man Melvin Purvis. Told in homely prose that's perfectly wedded to its subject, this engaging tragicomic novel is as much a study of quiet desperation as of crime and punishment. 275,000 first printing; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates; author tour.
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One of my favorite books. Larry and Diana write their characters so well. You feel like you know Charles Floyd.