It can now be told, the best book I've ever read is Buffalo Girls by Larry McMurtry.
I t's a bit surprising to me in a number of ways, but I also feel sometimes "when" you read a book goes a long way towards your reaction to it. And this one hit me at the right time. I've ranked some books high and looked back later and had second thoughts. Maybe that will be the case down the road with this one, but for now, it's numero uno.
Larry McMurtry returns to the territory of his Pulitzer Prize–winning masterwork, Lonesome Dove, to sing the song of Calamity Jane's last ride. In a letter to her daughter back East, Martha Jane is not shy about her own importance. Martha Jane—better known as Calamity—is just one of the handful of aging legends who travel to London as part of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show in Buffalo Girls. As he describes the insatiable curiosity of Calamity's Indian friend No Ears, Annie Oakley's shooting match with Lord Windhouveren, and other highlights of the tour, McMurtry turns the story of a band of hardy, irrepressible survivors into an unforgettable portrait of love, fellowship, dreams, and heartbreak.
I like murder mysteries; this is not one.
I like crime noir; this is not.
I like a little sexual tension; this has none.
I'm not much for history books either. While this is more historical fiction, it does gravitate around real historical characters, with a couple others thrown in for flavor.
The characters were deep. I felt like I could feel what they were feeling. The loneliness. They loss of a way of life and friends and animals. The changes they were encountering. The choices they were forced to make. It all just jived.
One of the unique writing techniques McMurtry used is every few chapters he inserts letter from Jane to her daughter, who is being raised "civily" back East. They get you thinking about where this is going. Where it goes I can't really say without spoiling it, so I won't. But it's good.
And the last line of the book made me laugh and close the book with a smile on my face. I leaned back in the recliner and thought about the experience. If I smoked, I would've lit a cigarette.
Amazonians give it a 4.3 out of 5; stupid Goodreaders a 3.7. I forsook the plus and minus rating and went with a 9.8 out of 10 -- not a Nadia Comaneci or Bo Derek (Google them you young pups) but definitely in the Angelina Jolie category.
Read it and tell me I'm wrong. I dare ya.