It was good to finish on a high note though, as Larry McMurtry's "Telegraph Days" was a joy to read. He is most famous for writing "Lonesome Dove," which oddly enough, I have never read. But I've read a handful of his other works and they are all great.
The narrator of Larry McMurtry's newest book is spunky Nellie Courtright, twenty-two years old and already wrapping every man in the West around her little finger. When she and her teenage brother Jackson are orphaned, she sweet-talks the local sheriff into hiring Jackson as a deputy, while she takes over the vacant job of town telegrapher. When, by pure blind luck, Jackson shoots down the entire Yazee gang, Nellie is quick to capitalize on his new notoriety by selling reviews to reporters. It seems wherever Nellie is, action is sure to happen, from a love affair with Buffalo Bill to a ringside seat at the O.K. Corral gunfight. Told with charm, humor, and an unparalleled zest for life, Nellie's story is the story of how the West was won.I gave "Telegraph Days" an 8+ on the Haugenomter scale of 1-10, just because it was such a fun read. Amazonians gave it 3.8 out of 5 and Goodreaders a 3.5. The somewhat lower ratings there are, to my reading of the reviews, due to the fact that there's just so many fun-haters out there. It's not non-fiction, folks. It's not a historical essay. It was a fun romp through history told through the eyes of a spunky 22-year-old woman. The fact that Buffalo Bill couldn't have been with her in 1876 when she met the Earp Brothers, because Bill was in another town, doesn't matter. Or it shouldn't. It wasn't meant to matter. It was meant to be a fun read, and it was.
One line I liked and have found true myself: "It's odd how it can take but a second for things to get out of kilter in this life."'
And this: "Being its first telegraph lady and then its mayor, had helped make me a responsible young woman. I had never been one to suffer fools gladly, but the main thing I learned, in the end, was not to insist on too lofty ideals. If you want to be part of a human community you have to suffer --patiently, if not gladly -- and you must practice civility as best you can. there were normal people, like the McClendon sisters, and great driving fools like Bill Cody, but the tribe of human beings is never likely to be crowded with Aristotles."
If I had to compare myself to another writer, it would be McMurtry. I am definitely the poor-poor-man's version and only aspire to be as good as he is. His books are mostly set in the Old West, but aren't really Westerns. They are more about eccentric characters who just happen to live in the 1800s. They are funny, sad, a little naughty at times, and some real thinkers.
Also, while I was posting chapters of "Pet Teachers" on this blog (I was pleasantly surprised by the number of you fine folks who were reading it) and pimping out my new book, Mustang Lang, I managed to read three other books but didn't find the time to post reviews of them.
They were more of the same I usually read and all good:
"The Confessor" by Daniel Silva filled in a hole I'd missed in the Gabrial Allon series. Gave it an 8 on the Haugenometer.
"Tanner On Ice" by Lawrence Block is from the Evan Tanner series and wasn't among Block's best. Gave it a 6.
"Bloody Genius" by John Sandford is of the Virgil Flowers series and was a fun one to read. Gave it an 8.