A collection of essays that offers an intimate view of Larry McMurtry, America’s preeminent western novelist, through the eyes of a pantheon of writers he helped shape through his work over the course of his unparalleled literary life.
When he died in 2021, Larry McMurtry was one of America’s most revered writers. The author of treasured novels such as Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show, and coauthor of the screenplays for Brokeback Mountain and Streets of Laredo, McMurtry created unforgettable characters and landscapes largely drawn from his life growing up on the family’s hardscrabble ranch outside his hometown of Archer City, Texas. Pastures of the Empty Page brings together fellow writers to honor the man and his impact on American letters.
Paulette Jiles, Stephen Harrigan, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, and Lawrence Wright take up McMurtry’s piercing and poetic vision—an elegiac literature of place that demolished old myths of cowboy culture and created new ones. Screenwriting partner Diana Ossana reflects on their thirty-year book and screenwriting partnership; other contributors explore McMurtry’s reading habits and his passion for bookselling. And brother Charlie McMurtry shares memories of their childhood on the ranch. In contrast to his curmudgeonly persona, Larry McMurtry emerges as a trustworthy friend and supportive mentor. McMurtry was famously self-deprecating, but as his admirers attest, this self-described “minor regional writer” was an artist for the ages.
George Getschow is a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Award for distinguished writing about the underprivileged. He has earned numerous other awards for his writing and was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2012 for “distinctive literary achievement.” Today, as director of the Archer City Writers Workshop, he helps organize and conduct annual writing workshops in Archer City for professional writers and college and high school students from across the country.
Pastures of the Empty Page is essential reading for both writers and readers. It should be on the bookshelf of everyone who values words, who appreciates insight and unexpected revelations, and who loves Larry McMurtry. As a bonus, it is brilliantly written.
~Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Good Night, Irene
A brilliant and insightful collection of essays and personal recollections about one of America’s most important writers. Honest, funny, and compelling: this will go down as one of our great literary histories.
~Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
No Texas man of letters loomed larger than Larry McMurtry. This wonderful encomium from friends and admirers gets at the peculiar magic behind McMurtry's long and incredibly eclectic career as a celebrated novelist, screenwriter, bibliophile, and student of the American West.
~Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West
A conclave of writers gathers to consider the late Larry McMurtry (1936-2021). . . . Sprinkled with surprising revelations, this is a good collection for every McMurtry fan’s library.
The elegiac remembrances offer intimate glimpses into McMurtry’s life (collaborator Diana Ossana recalls the “emotional breakdown” he suffered after a heart attack), with no shortage of surprises. . . . McMurtry’s fans will want to track this down.
More than three dozen writers contemplate the legacy of Texas’s most beloved author. . . a moving tribute.
~Andrew Graybill, Texas Monthly
McMurtry, who died in 2021, famously referred to himself as a 'minor regional writer.' In this Festschrift, a host of authors and close friends, including his longtime screenwriting partner Diana Ossana, argue the opposite in essays that celebrate the author’s talents, contributions to literature, and mentoring of other writers.
This book is part eulogy, part memoir, part literary criticism. All of it is absorbing . . . Among the pleasures of Pastures of the Empty Page are the short biographical sketches of the contributors dangled like literary gifts at the end of each piece.
The essays in Getschow's book consider McMurtry's position in the pantheon of great literature — along with a critical take on how he wrote about minority groups.
In Pastures of the Empty Page, Getschow defines how each writer, by various avenues, was dealt an education in storytelling by McMurtry, the sensitive but formidable master of chronicling this region’s built and behavioral vernaculars.
On the whole, the quality of the [contributed] pieces is gratifyingly high. Some of the richest essays are evocative reminiscences by intimates, among them Ossana, Gregory Curtis, Mike Evans, and Beverly Lowry, all of whom served as sources for Daugherty.
~The Times Literary Supplement
Pastures of the Empty Page: Fellow Writers on the Life and Legacy of Larry McMurtry (University of Texas Press) edited by George Getchow, contains essays from a who’s who list of Texas writers about Larry McMurtry’s influence on Texas culture and their lives. It includes an array of reflections on history and the writing process as well as anecdotes about McMurtry’s off-beat and innovative life.
George Getschow, Acknowledgments
Stephen Graham Jones, Foreword
George Getschow, Introduction
Charlie McMurtry, In Awesome Wonder
Paulette Jiles, The Boy with the Lamp
Skip Hollandsworth, The Larry McMurtry I Knew
Erik Calonius, The Master Geologist of Archer County
Joe W. Specht, Larry’s Oil-Patch Legacy
Teacher and Apprentices
William Broyles, Leave His Saddle on the Wall
Gregory Curtis, McMurtry’s Mild Discouragement
Mike Evans, “Mike, It’s Larry. I’m in Trouble.”
Myth Buster and Myth Maker
Geoff Dyer, Ranging across Texas
Doug J. Swanson, Gus, Call, Danny, and the Rangers
Oscar Cásares, Snakes in a River
Sarah Bird, Finding Home
Reader and Bookman
Bill Marvel, Larry McMurtry, Reader
Greg Giddings, An Afternoon with Larry
Brandon Kennedy, On Book Scouting and Ghostwritten Erotica
Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Runaways
Kathryn Jones, Bonding over Books
Collaborators and Confidants
Diana Ossana, Stirring the Memories
Michael Korda, The Moby-Dick of the Plains
Carol Flake Chapman, My Long Trail to Lonesome Dove
Susan Freudenheim, An Unlikely Bond
Sherry Kafka Wagner, Not So Silent Women
Beverly Lowry, Scenes from a Friendship
Katy Vine, Road Trip Tips from Larry McMurtry
Critic and Champion
John Nova Lomax, To Hell with the Sunny Slopes
Jim Black, Writer, Pass By
Elizabeth Crook, Loving Gus
Kathy Floyd, Somewhere, a Writer . . .
Eric Nishimoto, McMurtry’s Rebuff
Dianne Solis, At the Intersection of Aspiration and Asphyxiation
Cathy Booth Thomas, Reckoning at Idiot Ridge
Dave Tarrant, “Furthur”
Stephen Harrigan, Writing Plainly and Unforgettably
Alfredo Corchado, The Borderlands: A Home for Misfits Like Me and McMurtry’s Danny Deck
W. K. Stratton, All My Friends Are Going to Be Larry
Lawrence Wright, McMurtry Passes By
The publication of Pastures of the Empty Page was made possible by the support of the Charles N. Prothro Texana Endowment, the Summerfield G. Roberts Foundation, and Morris Matson.
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