Monday, November 06, 2006

All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers

The last trip I ever took with my dad was to Archer City, Texas, home of Larry McMurtry's vast project, Booked Up, an attempt to create a ranch of books in his old hometown, the setting for both the brilliant book and movie, The Last Picture Show. Archer City lies in the shadow of Misery Ridge, a tiny mountain range, and signals the vast deadness of the plains of Texas. Booked Up carried thousands and thousands of books -- Larry M. managed to buy several buildings in the town to store them. The bookstores did not carry his books, however, so he wouldn't be swarmed with fans wanting him to sign them. He could be seen carrying books under the unrelenting Texas sun, checking mail, and being crabby. I have always loved his books and had the thrill of being his student for a brief time -- he agreed to teach a week-long workshop at University of North Texas, his alma matter, and it was my great fortune to sign up for it. Larry didn't much like students or people in general and told us that he would not be reading our manuscripts because he said, diplomat that he is, that they sucked. This pissed many a student off -- not yours truly, though. I knew my manuscript was no great shakes -- did I really want the man who had penned All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers reading it? Uh, no. He answered questions with an attitude that I consider to be truly Texan in the best way -- suck it up, deal with it, writing isn't easy, no I don't have any tricks, I write every day, writing doesn't necessarily get better as you age, you never know what people will like, what they won't, don't bitch to me. My friends Shawn and Hank also attended. I do believe we were the only students not profoundly disappointed in the class. Shawn said, I wish someone would fix his hem (Larry had worn the same tired jacket three days running and the hem was hanging something awful), and Hank said, Man, I thought I was crabby and laughed hysterically.

Daddy and I saw Larry carting a huge pile of books when we were there. It was hot as all hell, even in March, and Larry was huffing and puffing. I smiled at him, and he smiled back and told me I had a good smile. It was my first and only direct address from him. I did a happy dance, feeling as if I'd been blessed by the Pope. I told Daddy, and he gave me a high five. We bought a couple of books at the main bookstore and proceeded to the Dairy Queen where Texasville had been filmed. There were framed newspaper clippings of the movie stars eating there (the only place in town besides Sonic to dine). I love Dairy Queens, and this one was no exception. The landscape outside was fierce and terrible and lonely, but I was inside for a few minutes in time with my daddy, eating hamburgers out of a basket, feeling for once that I was exactly where I should be.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

“The lives of happy people are dense with their own doings - crowded, active, thick. But the sorrowing are nomads, on a plain with few landmarks and no boundaries; sorrow's horizons are vague and its demands are few.” Larry McMurtry

Cocktail Hour

Drinking movie suggestion: The Last Picture Show and Texasville -- the first one is a masterpiece, the second one is great fun.


Nathan Detroit said...

You bring a whole cultural world with you to these parts with which most people in this neck of the woods are unfamiliar, except in bits and pieces. You're a valuable cultural person. Thanks for rounding out the whole picture of the Texas cultural millieu.

Oscar Winner said...

I never trusted Bogdanovich after what he did to Dorothy Stratten. "The Last Picture Show" must've been a masterpiece by accident.

C said...

He sounds like a hoot.

r's musings said...

Interesting post about Texas, your dad, and Larry McMurtry.

paul said...

Cajun Q FoxyDetroitTigerLady your the LionsLuckyLady2 and WeWON4aCHANGE
I know what you and Mr. Larry mean
R2 C2!

Laura said...

Great story about you and your dad and Larry McMurtry.

Bonnie said...

I am so glad you got to spend that time with your Daddy and I love those pix from that visit. Have you posted any of them? They are SO sweet in front of the DQ.
kiss kiss

JR's Thumbprints said...

We need more people like Larry McMurtry to tell people like it is. I'm wondering, just how much help did he get from his live-in housekeeper on Brokeback Mountain?

Sheila said...

Great story about you and your dad!