195 words about Lonesome Dove

Reading, cooking biscuits and getting drunk on the porch

The novel is a doorstop that contains everything, the overwhelming heartbreak and temporary happinesses that knit the week’s tedium together, moments of being alive and feeling dead. It is McMurtry’s genius that all of it seems self-evident, that it is decidedly not A Book About Life in that elders handing down wisdom way, in that sappy-stupid one-person show way. It is maybe that he spends a lot of time describing the weather, has a special appreciation for the many different shades of dirt beneath his heroes’ feet. The miniseries is what happens when you remove several layers of artistry, when you can’t find a director to approximate with imagery all those pretty cowboy sentences McMurtry seasons his pretty cowboy dialogue with, when actors extract only archetypes from the voluminous characters. What is this likeable enough but profanely hokey bullshit? Everyone seems to be playing dress-up. Except Glenne Headly, who is exhausted and determined and faintly amused, running from a life she definitely doesn’t want back to one she probably doesn’t either. Playing the busted odds. She’s a trickle of bracing sadness in an adaptation far too sunny and blithe. The book is a torrent.