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From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lonesome Dove comes a powerful coming-of-age novel set in the American West. In Thalia, Texas, Larry McMurtry epitomizes small-town America and through characters reintroduced in Texasville and Duane’s Depressed, captures the ecstasy and heartbreak of adolescence.

The Last Picture Show is one of Larry McMurtry's most memorable novels, and the basis for the enormously popular movie of the same name. Set in a small, dusty, Texas town, The Last Picture Show introduced the characters of Jacy, Duane, and Sonny: teenagers stumbling toward adulthood, discovering the beguiling mysteries of sex and the even more baffling mysteries of love. Populated by a wonderful cast of eccentrics and animated by McMurtry's wry and raucous humor, The Last Picture Show is a wild, heartbreaking, and poignant novel that resonates with the magical passion of youth.

Topics: Coming of Age, Made into a Movie, Sex, Love, Friendship, Bildungsroman, Series, First in a Series, Texas, Small Town, 1950s, 1960s, Touching, and Third Person Narration

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781451606584
List price: $11.66
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    Small-town Texas in the 1950s comes alive in Larry McMurtry's words. The small kindnesses, and the small cruelties, are all on display. The book mostly follows along with Sonny and Duane, best friends and silent rivals for the prettiest girl in town, Jacy. It's not much of a rivalry since Jacy is dating Duane - it mostly consists of Sonny longing for her and Duane pretending he doesn't notice.I liked the way such a brief glimpse into the town brought such a varied cast of characters to life. It takes a lot to introduce so many people and make the reader care about all of them, to leave you wanting more but not feeling like anyone got short shrift. It's easy to empathize with Billy, the slow kid who sweeps various businesses and will just keep sweeping his way down the street unless someone stops him. Harder to feel for Lois Farrow, Jacy's mom ... and yet, you do. And at the center of it all is Sonny, with no idea how to get what he wants - and in fact, not much of an idea why he even wants it.more
    I think it would be perfectly fair to say that I do not like role-fulfillment. By that I mean that I do not believe any of us are born into a role that we must fill until the day we die.The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry seems, to me, to explore the issue of the roles people are supposed to play.Each character in the novel is faced with a crux in which they can continue to go on with what is expected of them (whether that role is as a housewife, as a man, as a wealthy teen, as a preacher, etc) or change into something that they no longer recognize as themselves. That I believe is the message of the novel: the roles are arbitrary and only the individual can choose what to do with what is expected of them. The hard part is knowing that one can change who they are and what is expected of them. Otherwise, they continue and continue and continue… In one manner, we see why a unhappy wife of a football coach continues: she feels she had a role to play with her ignoramus husband; and being at the age she is, that is all she can accept, therefore no change can come out of it. But, when a teenage boy comes into her life and loves her body like no man has ever, her role is drastically changed.And role changing is frightening after you’ve lived it for so long and without any exit plan.Another issue that The Last Picture Show deals with is what really goes on in small towns. Often politicians will give us small towns as the American ideal and tell us how little crime they have, how few infidelities occur, and how the moral conscience is usually in the right. McMartry gives the uncensored view of what goes on in small towns and behind those closed doors all delivered in a matter-of-fact way that does not indicated any surprise from the narrator’s ink. The shocks and awes should not do just that: everything is presented as if the readers was the most casual type and would mumble nothing more than, “Of course, of course…I remember when I did that when I was a boy…”Small town America is an illusion. The Last Picture Show is just that: the silvered-screen ideal being torn down to show us what is really going on behind what so many call idyllic and quaint.more
    I really enjoy the way that Larry McMurtry weaves a story. The characters are amazingly real and you can relate in some way to all of them. I am undecided on the ending...I wish something more conclusive would have happened but at the same time I appreciate that life goes on.more
    I'm very late coming to McMurtry. I'm sorry I've waited so long, but on the other hand happy to have a whole lineup of his books still available to be read. I remember, vaguely, seeing the movie when it first came out in the 70s, and I had the young Jeff Bridges in mind throughout my reading, here. But that's fine, as I'd have to say that was a very good piece of casting. At any rate, this is an amazing book about mid-century small town prairie life. Real, and not always admirable, people acting like people really act. Sad but not overly so and in the end infused with an overall kindness and generosity on the part of the author toward his characters. And one amazing turn of phrase after another spices up the writing. Wholly enjoyable.more
    This book covers that major, complex divide between childhood and adulthood. Once we have experienced love, heartbreak, fulfillment, disappointment, birth, and death, that is when life truly begins. These experiences, can leave us temporarily distraught; feeling as if the future holds no promise. Somehow, we cross over and do not remember any other way, nor do we want to. We become content with ourselves and with the education we call, life. At the close of this book, Mc Murtry leaves his three protagonists at the birth of this life-adventure. Endearingly bittersweet.more
    The Last Picture Show follows three teens through their senior year of high school in a desolate Texas town. Sonny, the main character, is passive and sex-starved; Duane, his best friend, is confident and better-looking, but struggling in a relationship with a much wealthier girl; Jacy, Duane's girlfriend, is overshadowed by her wild, glamorous mother and lacks the maturity to deal with her budding sexuality. Each character is vivid and real, earnest enough to make my heart ache but flawed enough to make me uncomfortable. This book, in a way, is about the depravity unleashed by extreme boredom. Each character pursues sex selfishly and recklessly, without a thought to the emotional cost to friends, family or lovers. More importantly, the whole town pursues gossip and scandal with a near-sexual fervor, resulting in acts of social brutality committed against innocent people. Yet these things could easily slip past the notice of an unobservant reader; although they are a prominent part of the book, they are almost eclipsed by the sleepy every day rhythm of small town life. I admired the writer's attention to detailed scenery and people -- even minor characters are three-dimensional and contribute something important to the story. My only complaint: sometimes the writer portrays the boredom small town life a little too well, and I occasionally found myself growing tired of both the setting and the characters. The ending was also just a bit too open-ended; although I like to use my imagination, I do want enough information to build a credible conjecture. The extremely open ending made me feel like the book didn't add up to much, but it was certainly a good ride.more
    A great little novel that was rendered as perfectly into film as anything I've ever seen. The most significant omission was the non-inclusion of the basketball game, which was simultaneously hilarious and ghastly. A straightforward little gem.more
    Read all 9 reviews

    Reviews

    Small-town Texas in the 1950s comes alive in Larry McMurtry's words. The small kindnesses, and the small cruelties, are all on display. The book mostly follows along with Sonny and Duane, best friends and silent rivals for the prettiest girl in town, Jacy. It's not much of a rivalry since Jacy is dating Duane - it mostly consists of Sonny longing for her and Duane pretending he doesn't notice.I liked the way such a brief glimpse into the town brought such a varied cast of characters to life. It takes a lot to introduce so many people and make the reader care about all of them, to leave you wanting more but not feeling like anyone got short shrift. It's easy to empathize with Billy, the slow kid who sweeps various businesses and will just keep sweeping his way down the street unless someone stops him. Harder to feel for Lois Farrow, Jacy's mom ... and yet, you do. And at the center of it all is Sonny, with no idea how to get what he wants - and in fact, not much of an idea why he even wants it.more
    I think it would be perfectly fair to say that I do not like role-fulfillment. By that I mean that I do not believe any of us are born into a role that we must fill until the day we die.The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry seems, to me, to explore the issue of the roles people are supposed to play.Each character in the novel is faced with a crux in which they can continue to go on with what is expected of them (whether that role is as a housewife, as a man, as a wealthy teen, as a preacher, etc) or change into something that they no longer recognize as themselves. That I believe is the message of the novel: the roles are arbitrary and only the individual can choose what to do with what is expected of them. The hard part is knowing that one can change who they are and what is expected of them. Otherwise, they continue and continue and continue… In one manner, we see why a unhappy wife of a football coach continues: she feels she had a role to play with her ignoramus husband; and being at the age she is, that is all she can accept, therefore no change can come out of it. But, when a teenage boy comes into her life and loves her body like no man has ever, her role is drastically changed.And role changing is frightening after you’ve lived it for so long and without any exit plan.Another issue that The Last Picture Show deals with is what really goes on in small towns. Often politicians will give us small towns as the American ideal and tell us how little crime they have, how few infidelities occur, and how the moral conscience is usually in the right. McMartry gives the uncensored view of what goes on in small towns and behind those closed doors all delivered in a matter-of-fact way that does not indicated any surprise from the narrator’s ink. The shocks and awes should not do just that: everything is presented as if the readers was the most casual type and would mumble nothing more than, “Of course, of course…I remember when I did that when I was a boy…”Small town America is an illusion. The Last Picture Show is just that: the silvered-screen ideal being torn down to show us what is really going on behind what so many call idyllic and quaint.more
    I really enjoy the way that Larry McMurtry weaves a story. The characters are amazingly real and you can relate in some way to all of them. I am undecided on the ending...I wish something more conclusive would have happened but at the same time I appreciate that life goes on.more
    I'm very late coming to McMurtry. I'm sorry I've waited so long, but on the other hand happy to have a whole lineup of his books still available to be read. I remember, vaguely, seeing the movie when it first came out in the 70s, and I had the young Jeff Bridges in mind throughout my reading, here. But that's fine, as I'd have to say that was a very good piece of casting. At any rate, this is an amazing book about mid-century small town prairie life. Real, and not always admirable, people acting like people really act. Sad but not overly so and in the end infused with an overall kindness and generosity on the part of the author toward his characters. And one amazing turn of phrase after another spices up the writing. Wholly enjoyable.more
    This book covers that major, complex divide between childhood and adulthood. Once we have experienced love, heartbreak, fulfillment, disappointment, birth, and death, that is when life truly begins. These experiences, can leave us temporarily distraught; feeling as if the future holds no promise. Somehow, we cross over and do not remember any other way, nor do we want to. We become content with ourselves and with the education we call, life. At the close of this book, Mc Murtry leaves his three protagonists at the birth of this life-adventure. Endearingly bittersweet.more
    The Last Picture Show follows three teens through their senior year of high school in a desolate Texas town. Sonny, the main character, is passive and sex-starved; Duane, his best friend, is confident and better-looking, but struggling in a relationship with a much wealthier girl; Jacy, Duane's girlfriend, is overshadowed by her wild, glamorous mother and lacks the maturity to deal with her budding sexuality. Each character is vivid and real, earnest enough to make my heart ache but flawed enough to make me uncomfortable. This book, in a way, is about the depravity unleashed by extreme boredom. Each character pursues sex selfishly and recklessly, without a thought to the emotional cost to friends, family or lovers. More importantly, the whole town pursues gossip and scandal with a near-sexual fervor, resulting in acts of social brutality committed against innocent people. Yet these things could easily slip past the notice of an unobservant reader; although they are a prominent part of the book, they are almost eclipsed by the sleepy every day rhythm of small town life. I admired the writer's attention to detailed scenery and people -- even minor characters are three-dimensional and contribute something important to the story. My only complaint: sometimes the writer portrays the boredom small town life a little too well, and I occasionally found myself growing tired of both the setting and the characters. The ending was also just a bit too open-ended; although I like to use my imagination, I do want enough information to build a credible conjecture. The extremely open ending made me feel like the book didn't add up to much, but it was certainly a good ride.more
    A great little novel that was rendered as perfectly into film as anything I've ever seen. The most significant omission was the non-inclusion of the basketball game, which was simultaneously hilarious and ghastly. A straightforward little gem.more
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