Sorry I haven’t been around for a while, folks, but I’ve been writing papers and studying for exams, and in my spare time I’ve been working through this spider-crusher.* I wanted to come on here and be all like, ‘This book is a thousand pages long!’ And then when you all thought I was exaggerating, come at you with, ‘No, really, it’s one full thousand pages long!’ But it’s not. It’s only nine hundred and forty-five pages. Larry McMurtry, you were so close. You’re telling me you couldn’t throw an extra tussle with the Indians in there, and make your book an even grand?
Anyway, this book is about cowboys and Indians. Awesome. Except for Tombstone, the movie where Val Kilmer is Doc Holliday, and he’s all sassy and belligerent, I don’t really like westerns. But you don’t need to. All you need is to not hate an intro like ‘When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake.’ If you can handle that, and if you like long, sweeping epics, then this book is for you. If you like easy moseys over unsettled country, livened up by the occasional shoot-out or horse-thief-hanging, then git thee to a used book store.
If, on the other hand, you like your character-friends to live from cover to cover, and not go dying on you after you’ve spent four or eight or nine hundred pages in their company, then maybe you’d better hold off. And if you like subplots to be resolved, and men to tell their illegitimate sons that they are their fathers, having spent the entire book working up the courage to do just that (which isn’t a spoiler, trust me), or that girl to tell that guy whether or not she’ll marry him, and not just leave you wondering how that ended and did they ever hook up, then maybe watch a movie or something. Because in Lonesome Dove, some things extend beyond the scope of the book, and other things don’t quite make it that far.
So what’s it about? Um…cows, mostly. The incorrigible, rascally old Augustus and the stalwart workhorse Woodrow Call, along with their rag-tag band of cowboys, somehow get it in their heads to drive a herd of cattle from Texas up to the as-yet-unsettled state of Montana. Having spent most of their lives subduing Indians on the Texas-Mexico border, the two old Rangers are looking for one last burst of adventure before they get too old to leave their porch. They have some crazy adventures with…um…snow, and…uh…this Indian, Blue Duck (who, despite his Disney-esque name, was terrifying enough to give me several scalping nightmares), and one of the men insists on bringing his whore along for the drive, which causes all kinds of awkwardness and infuriates Woodrow Call, who can’t understand what a man needs a whore for anyways, because he’s never needed one, except for that one time, and that one time resulted in the birth of young Newt who, being the son of a whore, never knew who his real father was (hint: it’s Woodrow).
And speaking of Newt, in the book he’s this quiet, gangly, uncertain boy who only barely grows into something approximating manhood before the last page. But when my family and I used to watch Lonesome Dove the series, and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years the series, Newt was played by a younger, reasonably hunky Scott Bairstow (before his unfortunate Party of Five stint). I call that shoddy casting. Or, really really awesome casting, depending on your views.
At any rate, the book is fabulous, but not for the faint of heart. If you love nothing better than a good, long read, you might really enjoy this. If you aren’t snared by the first hundred pages, though, give it up. It only gets longer from there on in.