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Den långa färden (1985)

av Larry McMurtry

Serier: Lonesome Dove (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
6,7272051,010 (4.55)1 / 846
Chronicles a cattle drive in the nineteenth century from Texas to Montana, and follows the lives of Gus and Call, the cowboys heading the drive, Gus's woman, Lorena, and Blue Duck, a sinister Indian renegade.
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Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove starts with pigs and ends with sorrow. In between lies one of the best books I’ve ever read.

The novel is set in the American West after the Civil War. The protagonists, Woodrow Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae, are former Texas Rangers who retired a decade ago and spent the intervening years in the little Texas town of Lonesome Dove. Nominally, they run the Hat Creek Cattle Company with a few of their old comrades (and two blue pigs, who kick off the book by eating a snake). But mostly they’re just whiling away the hours.

This part of the story is easy, pleasurable reading. McMurtry writes in third-person omniscient, meandering from one character to the next and bringing them to life quickly and completely. Call is a workaholic prone to brooding. (“Give Call a grievance,” we hear early on, “however silly, and he would save it like money.”) Gus is voluble and lazy. Pea Eye is simple but solid. Deets is as reliable as he is quirky (he makes his pants out of quilts). Newt is young and desperate to please.

Even minor characters get distinctive traits. Lippy “was so named because his lower lip was about the size of the flap on a saddlebag. He could tuck enough snuff under it to last a normal person at least a month; in general the lip lived a life of its own, there toward the bottom of his face. Even when he was just sitting quietly, studying his cards, the lip waved and wiggled as if it had a breeze blowing across it.” And Joe “had a habit of staring straight ahead. Though Call assumed he had a neck joint like other men, he had never seen him use it.”

For a while, it seems like the Hat Creek crew might putter around Lonesome Dove forever. Then Jake, another ex-ranger—on the run from the law, as it happens—rides into town and mentions that he’s been to Montana and seen vast tracts of good, unsettled land there. This lights a fire under Call. He spurs the boys into motion, leading them on cattle raids across the Mexican border and hiring extra hands to help drive the animals north. So begins a great, three-thousand-mile trek from some of the lowest latitudes of the country to the highest.

Things get hairy almost immediately. Death comes fast on the drive, and the dangers are too varied to guard against: snake-plagued river crossings, lightning storms on the open plains, searing droughts, and worse. Likable characters are abused and killed. Some of your favorites won’t make it. Prepare to be heartbroken.

Yet there’s no grand goal here. Call and Gus aren’t trying to open up the American West—they already served their time protecting settlers along the shifting frontier. Montana is a vague destination, not a mission; Call essentially leaves Lonesome Dove on a whim. Gus goes along for lack of anything better to do, but not eagerly. “Here you’ve brought these cattle all this way,” he complains to his partner around the halfway mark, “with all this inconvenience to me and everybody else, and you don’t have no reason in this world to be doing it.”

McMurtry has plenty of reasons for the drive, though. In his preface to the 25th-anniversary edition of Lonesome Dove, he argues that “the central theme of the novel is not the stocking of Montana but unacknowledged paternity,” namely Newt’s. His mother is long dead, and his father might be one of the Rangers.

But that wasn’t the thread that stood out most to me. The book is filled with restless souls regretting all sorts of errors. Gus wishes he’d married his sweetheart when he had the chance. “I expect it was the major mistake of my life, letting her slip by,” he tells Call. For his part, the quieter man laments getting involved with women at all. Jake can’t believe he’s committed hanging crimes. July Johnson, the Kansas sheriff pursuing Jake, hates himself for leaving three of his charges to face a murderer. And so on.

Aging is the through-line here—aging and change. Gus and Call are past their primes. They were legendary Rangers once, but now they’re fading into irrelevancy. The younger generation doesn’t hold them in the same esteem. “I guess they forgot us, like they forgot the Alamo,” August observes after the owner of a bar tries to kick him out for demanding respectful treatment. “Why wouldn’t they?” Call answers. “We ain’t been around.”

The West is moving on too. The buffalo are nearly done, pushed to the brink of extinction by wasteful hunting. Gus rides past several slaughter sites where it looks like “a whole herd had been wiped out, for a road of bones stretched far across the plain.” The Native Americans aren’t in much better shape—despite their fearsome reputation, their numbers have dwindled in tandem with the buffalos’. “With those millions of animals gone,” Gus reflects, “and the Indians mostly gone in their wake, the great plains were truly empty, unpeopled and ungrazed. Soon the whites would come, of course, but what he was seeing was a moment between, not the plains as they had been, or as they would be, but a moment of true emptiness, with thousands of miles of grass resting unused, occupied only by remnants—of the buffalo, the Indians, the hunters.”

This is all tragic, but it’s beautifully done.

A couple things bothered me, however. That 25th-anniversary preface contains what feel like major spoilers. They aren’t, but I’d still skip this section until you’re done with the story proper. (Unless you want to start the book as grumpy as I did.)

More significantly, while Deets shines as the only African American in the Hat Creek outfit (“He’s the best man we got,” Call says late in the drive; “Best man we’ve ever had,” Augustus agrees), the one Native American that gets extended time on the page is a vicious monster. We meet some friendlier indigenous people in passing, but I kept waiting for a real counterweight: a kind Comanche, or a decent Sioux. It never happens. (To be fair, McMurtry does have Gus take a few stabs at articulating why the Native Americans aren’t always hospitable. “We won more than our share with the natives,” he remarks near the end of the novel. They didn’t invite us here, you know. We got no call to be vengeful.” And earlier, he puzzles Call by saying, “I think we spent our best years fighting on the wrong side.” I don’t think this is enough, but it’s something.)

Other than that … it’s hard to complain. Lonesome Dove doesn’t close with a climactic shootout like you might find in other westerns. But it doesn’t need to. The journey—Gus and Call’s last shot at big, unnecessary adventure—is the point.

And it’s a masterpiece.

(For more reviews like this one, see www.nickwisseman.com) ( )
  nickwisseman | Nov 14, 2020 |
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is a 1985 Pocket Books publication.

A little background- I do not read westerns- with the occasional exception of western historical romances here and there over the years. When it comes to movies or television shows- again, that would be a big, fat, no- except for the movie Tombstone.

However, after reading a nonfictional book about Dodge City, I thought I might finally be ready to try a non-fictional western.

Overwhelmingly, my Goodreads friends recommended I read this book- and one wonderful friend gave me a special nudge to get started on it sooner, rather than later- and I really, really appreciated that!!

Reading this book also worked toward a personal book challenge I set for myself at the beginning of this year- which was to read more books ‘everyone on the planet had read, but me’ and to try authors I should have read by now.

With the book weighing in at over nine-hundred pages, I thought I should wait for a time when I could read large portions of the book at a time and really digest it, because the praise heaped on this novel indicated it would demand my undivided attention.

As it turns out, life thew my family a few serious curveballs this past summer and I found myself struggling to keep up with everything, so I took a little sabbatical from social media, including Goodreads, and dove headlong into this unforgettable saga.

I can’t add anything much to numerous, and far more eloquent reviews for this book. But I will say, these characters, the landscape and scenery, and dialogue held me in thrall.

Naturally, I will have to be the only person to have a ‘pet peeve’ here, but before I say more, I do realize the time period in which the story is set, as well as the time period in which the book was written. But, I absolutely loathe the word ‘whore’ and as anyone who read this book can attest, it is a word that is used in nearly every other paragraph, it seems. I eventually became numb to it, though.

The ending threw me a little at first, too. I rolled it around in my head for a while trying to make up my mind about it. It is also one of the reasons why, after having finished the book months ago, I am just now attempting to verbalize my feelings- going back over everything that led to this crossroads of life for Call- and wondering if I was taking from the novel all that was intended.

But, when you get right down to the nitty gritty, this novel has many of the elements I love in a good long saga that spans over a long period of time. I love how the story takes readers on an adventure, giving the characters true tests of courage, and letting them develop in a way we don't see much of, these days.

Naturally, these characters will endure hardships and tragedy along the way- and the reader is right there in the thick of it, experiencing every emotion up close and personal.

Although I have read my fair share of long sagas, I have never experienced a book quite like this one. The writing is rich and vibrant, but with a raw grit to it, that occasionally caused me to pause for time, but despite the pain, and anger, and sadness- there are moments of lightness, humor and laughter, and a deep poignancy makes this a novel that sticks with you for the long haul.

I will never, ever forget these characters, or the incredible storytelling in this novel! ( )
  gpangel | Oct 25, 2020 |
“If he wasn’t tilting the rope-bottomed chair, he was tilting the jug.”

Another evening in Lonesome Dove, dry, hot, and filled with rattle snakes and centipedes. The Hat Creek Livery Stable, with Call, Augustus, and the rest of the men, well, they just don’t rent pigs, though quite a few shoats roam about the place! Some of the men do chase on over to the sporting woman, a time or two! This book is set at a very deliberate pace, sort of slow and pressed down by the heat of it all. A little too slow, for my tastes. I liked the conflict of some of the men, the sort of 'the inner man with the outer man' conundrum. And I laughed when the horse thieves from the North run smack dab into horse thieves from the South, as each group looks to escape back into their home country! But, overall, I felt like I was just waiting for something to happen. Lot of waiting in these pages...

Just remember: Uva uvam viviendo varia fit ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Aug 6, 2020 |
One of my favorites - I've lost count of how many times I've read it. Fabulous characters. Great story.
If you're jumping in to this one - be advised until they get the cattle moving it's a bit slow - just hang in there.
I enjoyed the first bit much more the second time through the book because I was so familiar with the characters.

2017 - reread by listening to the audiobook. This is still one of my favorite reads. Westerns are not my genre of choice - but this one is a great character study of two old Texas Rangers and the people they work with and encounter on their 3000 mile cattle drive to Montana. If you only read one western - it should be this one. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
This is a long story, equal to three normal size books. If you are going to read it, be prepared for violence. It describes the life of cowboys, mostly during a cattle drive, where they are confronted by almost every calamity known to man.
It continually emphasizes the weaknesses of the cowboys and their frequent bouts of tears. A bunch of indecision makers concerned about what the others think of them. The women are the strong characters, nothing getting in the way of their goals.
The author has no remorse about the elimination of his characters, seldom dying in bed. ( )
1 rösta delta61 | Jul 30, 2020 |
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All of Mr. McMurtry's antimythic groundwork -his refusal to glorify the West - works to reinforce the strength of the traditionally mythic parts of ''Lonesome Dove,'' by making it far more credible than the old familiar horse operas. These are real people, and they are still larger than life. The aspects of cowboying that we have found stirring for so long are, inevitably, the aspects that are stirring when given full-dress treatment by a first-rate novelist. Toward the end, through a complicated series of plot twists, Mr. McMurtry tries to show how pathetically inadequate the frontier ethos is when confronted with any facet of life but the frontier; but by that time the reader's emotional response is it does not matter - these men drove cattle to Montana!

tillagd av Stir | ändraNew York Times, Necholas Lemann (Jun 9, 1985)
 
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All America lies at the end of the wilderness road, and our past is not a dead past, but still lives in us. Our forefathers had civilization inside themselves, the wild outside. We live in the civilization they created, but within us the wilderness still lingers. What they dreamed, we live, and what they lived, we dream.
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For Maureen Orth,
and
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the nine McMurtry boys
(1878-1983)
"Once in the saddle they
Used to go dashing . . ."
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When Augustus came out on the porch the blue pigs were eating a rattlesnake—not a very big one.
Fictions - in my case, novels only, to the tune of about thirty - starts in tactile motion; pecking out a few sentences on a typewriter; sentences that might encourage me and perhaps a few potential readers to press on. (Preface)
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Chronicles a cattle drive in the nineteenth century from Texas to Montana, and follows the lives of Gus and Call, the cowboys heading the drive, Gus's woman, Lorena, and Blue Duck, a sinister Indian renegade.

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