No doubt those coyotes you heard howling toward the end of March were lamenting the death of Larry McMurtry. I came close to howling with them on March 26 when I learned the Texas writer had passed the day before. I have watched the mini-series “Lonesome Dove” too many times to count, and being a lover of the Western genre, I watch every episode with profound respect for McMurtry’s realistic, heart-rending grasp of the “old West” and the people who tamed it.
Over his lifetime, his love of the wild West coupled with painstaking research resulted in close to three dozen novels, over 20 screenplays, and numerous nonfiction memoirs and essays. I was especially delighted when he adapted a short story written by Annie Proulx, another of my favorite authors, into the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Annie’s story won the National Magazine Award for Fiction in 1998, and the film adaptation was a “best picture” finalist at the 78th Annual Academy Awards. What a dynamite combination!
Several of McMurtry’s engaging novels, and not always Westerns, were adopted by filmmakers. Besides his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove which became an Emmy-winning TV series, films based on The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment were box office triumphs. Last Picture Show was a finalist for the “best picture” Oscar in 1971.I will dearly miss the prolific writer as I do the passing of all of my favorite authors. Lately, March seems to be particularly hard on them. Larry McMurtry died March 25, 2021; Pat Conroy March 4, 2016. Annie, please be extra careful during March.