On First Looking Into Larry McMurtry’s ‘Lonesome Dove’

Geoff Dyer at the TLS:

By the halfway point in my journey through Lonesome Dove two things started happening. As I began communicating my Keats-on-Chapman’s-Homer “discovery” to friends, it became clear that the book inspired something more akin to faith than admiration or love. People hadn’t just read the book; they had converted or pledged allegiance to it. When a friend came to dinner and saw my copy on the table she explained that she had been given the middle name MacRae, in honour of Gus. I fell prey to a kind of fanaticism myself, emailing an unsuspecting Zadie Smith to ask why anyone would bother with even a page of Saul Bellow when they could be immersed in Lonesome Dove. When she wrote back that she couldn’t bear Bellow or westerns I was tempted to respond, insanely, that it wasn’t a western. And yet – to deploy a favourite hesitation of Steiner’s – perhaps an underlying sanity or logic was at work.

more here.