McMurtry complained of the love for Lonesome Dove: "I thought I had written about a harsh time and some pretty harsh people, but, to the public at large, I had produced something nearer to an idealization; instead of a poor man's Inferno, filled with violence, ...
.... faithlessness and betrayal, I had actually delivered a kind of Gone With The Wind of the West, a turnabout I'll be mulling over for a long, long time."

It's strange here to see McMurtry underrate the power of the deconstruction and demythologization of the West he produced.
One of the things that struck me about Lonesome Dove was the jaggedness of it. Characters you expect to be redeemed aren't. Characters who deserve a happy ending are killed randomly and unexpectedly. Loves romantic and filial go unrequited.
It's a gut-punch of a book that ends with a casual imprecation of the story's central object of desire. It's as if McMurtry is bent on giving us a world where things don't work out and ends are left loose.
But Lonesome Dove wasn't "Unforgiven," either — it wasn't a deconstruction of the Western for its own sake. It was just showing the jaggedness of the frontier as it really was, or as he saw it.
I suspect if he had instead wrapped all these stories up in a neat bow the book would have been gobbled by the public and promptly forgotten.
Maybe what made it work was how these characters — most of all Augustus McCrae, but also Newt, Lorie, Clara, July, and ultimately also Gus's real love, Woodrow Call — persist in their yearnings despite the land and its author doing everything it can to show them the folly of it.
Clara curses Woodrow as a fool for agreeing to the journey Gus assigns him in the book's last act. I think we're meant to agree with her but to see the grandness and beauty in it all the same.
McMurtry said people misread as an epic romance what was actually a harsh story of people foolishly intent on their dreams in a brutal world set on cutting them short. But the book lingers just because these two things can very much go together.
—as of course Gus understands in tasking Call with that final journey, which really has no point other than finally forcing Call to tilt at his own windmill: "Texas? Yes, Texas. Yes, that's my favor to you."
Final thing: Robert Duvall is sensational on screen as Gus. It's justly considered by Duvall his best performance.
For those unfamiliar with the book or the movie, I should add that it's also incorrigibly charming, funny, and (McMurtry would hate this, I imagine) sweet.
Absolutely. I'd say it's a perplexing mix of *pessimism* and unshakeable hope, one that a lot of other literary writers try to pull off as a grand cosmic statement, where for McMurtry it just unfolds under its own intent logic.

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More from @AriSchulman

26 Mar
Covid showed that a managerial class skilled only in manipulating symbols can no longer recognize a real, material event as material. At least this can be fun! 220 tons of matter wedges in a canal and we all ask in unison, "What is this about?" and answer: 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨.
The Boat is of course only incidentally a boat, and primarily a manifestation of the online mind's inability to quit take-making and be about anything other than itself. It is the collective large adult son of The Discourse.

This is a great take, someone pay me to write this up.
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
RIP to an unrivaled literary king. Hope they bury him by that little grove down near Austin. Image
Read 6 tweets
2 Mar
Texas is done with Covid; I hope Covid is done with Texas.
Abbott ending business restrictions can surely be argued, but there’s just no good substantive reason to end the mask mandate, unless accompanied by clear messaging that it’s still a strongly urged voluntary measure until herd immunity is reached.
Lockdowns are brutal; masks are just annoying. Even given uncertainty, the probable benefit-to-cost ratio is better than perhaps any other measure except vaccines. It’s stupid to participate in tribalizing it, which Abbott seems to be doing.
Read 5 tweets
2 Mar
Even if you believe true career destruction is still a rarity (I wouldn't), the mere threat of it leads to a much broader dynamic: You certainly *can* voice opinions outside the orthodoxy on certain subjects, but to do it, you pretty much have to make a career of it.
That very high cost of entry — which applies to anyone hoping for a sustained presence in public life — distorts the intellectual marketplace in ways that entrench conformist, pitchbot-predictable takes on left and right alike.
*(I don't), nerts.
Read 6 tweets
19 Feb
Much of the public health community now sees its purpose as achieving a capacious, daily-shifting definition of justice more than as healing medical illness. It either refuses to see that one can conflict with the other, or does but considers this a sign of devotion to the cause.
"We made a world-historic breakthrough silver-bullet vaccine? Say, this seems like a good opportunity to settle some scores."
"Gosh, why don't people trust us anymore"
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
"I've received word that South Austin Hospital has no water and is not accepting any new patients in their ED."

Sobering Facebook post from Dr. Chris Ziebell, emergency medicine chief at Dell Medical School. Image
Sent by @Jamesmarroquin: St. David's South Austin is transferring patients out due to lack of water. Brodie location is flooded. Image
Bump on this for the people asking me earlier why it's a such a BFD when roads are impassable during a meltdown of all other infrastructure.
Read 4 tweets

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