Today, on the 38th anniversary of the publication of Larry McMurtry’s treasured novel of the American West, Lonesome Dove, the University of Texas Press is proud to feature our forthcoming book, Pastures of the Empty Page: Fellow Writers on the Life and Legacy of Larry McMurtry. The collection, to be released on September 5, 2023, offers an intimate view of Larry McMurtry through contributions from a diverse pantheon of writers who were shaped by his life and work.
Editor George Getschow, director of the Archer City Writers Workshop, which regularly gathers writers in the small Texas town that inspired McMurtry and became home to his bookshop, Booked Up, called on nearly forty contributors to honor the unparalleled literary life of Larry McMurtry. “Everyone knows that Larry McMurtry and Texas literature are indivisible,” says Getschow. “What isn’t so well known is the enormous impact Larry has had on prominent writers in Texas and across the country.”
“The Texas he wrote about so much, it’s the same Texas that’s in me, and that I’m pretty sure is in all the writers in these pages,” says Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Indian Lake Trilogy. and the foreword to Pastures of the Empty Page. Jones adds that we “feel a connection to Larry McMurtry, or owe him a debt, or just want to pay homage with the best thing they have: their words.”
The contributors—a who’s who of contemporary writers, friends, and collaborators, including Lawrence Wright, Geoff Dyer, Elizabeth Crook, Stephen Harrigan, Oscar Casáres, William Kip Stratton, and many, many more—offer preceptive and elegiac reflections on one of America’s greatest writers. Getschow, as well as the contributors, are available for interview upon request.
As Lawrence Wright points out in his essay, cowboys were “captives to the conventions of the culture they live in,” but Larry McMurtry recast the cowboy image and legend in inalterable ways. Readers will discover how McMurtry became Texas’s most famous storyteller of the twentieth century, and how his literature shaped the way we see Texas and the West.
One of the great, untold stories about Larry McMurtry is that of his relationships to the women in his life—a small cadre of female confidants and collaborators whom Larry befriended, mentored, and stayed in touch with all his life. Included pieces such as “Stirring the Memories,” by his co- screenwriter of the Oscar-winning script for Brokeback Mountain, Diana Ossana, feature these important connections in his life.
McMurtry, who often wore a shirt emblazoned with the phrase, “Minor Regional Writer,” was famously self-deprecating, but as his admirers attest, he was perhaps our only modern Great American Man of Letters, with a peculiar magic behind his unforgettable characters and landscapes.
“Now the longhorns are gone. The cowboys are gone. Old Texas is gone. And Larry McMurtry, is gone,” adds Getschow. “But his influence will endure for as long as literature endures. Larry’s books, which scrutinize and filter the myths of the Old West through his hard-bitten experiences as a cowboy, forged a new brand of literature and a new generation of writers captivated by his clear-eyed vision and unvarnished realism about Texas and the American West.”
Pastures of the Empty Page
Fellow Writers on the Life and Legacy of Larry McMurtry
Edited by George Getschow
272 pages, 9781477327876
$29.95 hardcover and ebook
Publication Date: September 5, 2023