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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry

Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-7432-5078-8

You can always count on good old McMurtry for an entertaining western. This has got to be one of his lighter efforts in this vein, but it's still a rollicking good read. Loyal McMurtry fans will snap it up like the delectable little bon bon it is. Not much “there” there, but fun anyhow.

What gets me is the nonchalance and ease with which McMurtry hobnobs (or rather has his characters hobnob) with the great legends of Western mythology. Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickock, lot's of Bill's there, Jesse James, plus the whole passel of Earp brothers, for starters. I suppose he (McMurtry) has researched the west and its history so thoroughly that it is no trouble for him to drag these legendary characters in and out of his books at the drop of a hat.

As an example, getting on towards the end of the book, our protagonist and heroine, the stalwart Marie Antoinette Courtright, shows up in Tombstone, Arizona, when? On the very day before the famous shootout at the OK Corral between the Earps, Doc Holliday and the Clanton brothers and their gang, known as the Cowboys. So “Nellie” as she's known, writes another of her little Western books on the subject.

If I were writing Westerns, I know I'd never have the nerve to incorporate these kinds of legendary cameos right and left like McMurtry does. But he has no difficulty in pulling it off, and it's a good part of the charm and contributes to the success of this entertaining albeit lightweight tale. Recommended for fans of Westerns, and especially for McMurtry devotees.

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