Leaving Cheyenne, Larry McMurtry, Harper & Row, 1963, 253 pp
I love Larry McMurtry. He can get as sentimental as Charles Dickens does and it never bothers me. This was his second novel. Gideon Fry loves Molly, but so does his best friend Johnny McCloud. Molly loves them both but marries someone else. Meanwhile she sleeps with both of them on the side and bears each one a son.
Gideon, son of a rancher, stands to inherit his father's place. Johnny doesn't like to work for anyone else, styling himself as a free-ranging cowboy, but whenever he is out of money he works on the Fry ranch. He and Gideon have been best friends since they were kids. Molly loves men, loves sex, yet is stuck on her drunk of a father's farm taking care of him.
The story follow these three from birth into their sixties and each has a turn at telling how their lives
intertwined. Nothing turns out the way they planned but they are always connected. Each one in various ways is about as lonely as a person can get.
I started the Tales of Texas theme with News of the World and it continues. The state is so big it could probably hold all the stories of the world and so big that possibly everyone in it is lonely to some degree or other. The stories of these three lives in the first half of the 20th century in north Texas, where the work and the heat and the wind and the dust were continuous, where electricity and cars came late, happen in a place where a person could live pretty much by his or her own inclinations. It has a bit of everything; humor, tragedy, friendship, adventure and some of the best conversations you will ever read. Most of all it is about love in all its oddity.
I laughed, I cried, I wanted to take each character and give them a good shaking, but each one would have done what they wanted anyway. I loved each one equally and I think they loved each other equally, so the love triangle could only be broken by death. Somehow the book was good for me, as all of McMurtry's books have been.