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Lonesome Dove • Episode #152

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry has sold over 2 and a half million copies worldwide since publication in 1985, and won a Pulitzer Prize. With prose as ‘as smooth as worn saddle-leather’, USA today writes ‘If you read only one Western novel in your life, read this one . . . no other has ever approached the accomplishment of Lonesome Dove‘. More interesting to us, Lonesome Dove is one of those ‘if-you-know-you-know’ books, passed from reader to reader, once read, never forgotten. And yet not everyone is a fan – listen in to see what Laura’s book club made of it. As ever we’re careful not to spoil the plot, so rest assured we won’t give away any of the book’s secrets.

We’re also recommending some follow-ons and some favourites from our recent reading piles.

McMurtry himself in an interview revealed that the inspiration for the two central characters of Gus McRae and Woodrow Call came from the archetypal characters in Don Quixote, the dreamer and the practical man. Over the course of the novel Gus and Call draw closer to one another in terms of their characteristics, but never quite swap over. Also, the latin motto we mention translates as something along the lines of ‘The grape ripens by looking at another grape’. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, which may well have been McMurtry’s intention, but it’s also interesting to consider in the light of the way the two main characters change in relation to one another throughout the course of the novel – as indeed other characters are changed by their interactions with them.

Listen via the media player above, or your preferred podcast player with this Podfollow link. The audiobook of Lonesome Dove is published by Phoenix Books and read by Lee Horsley.

Book list

Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

Austerlitz by W.G. Seabed

Sharp by Michelle Dean

How to Talk About Books you Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard


If you read one article on Lonesome Dove, let it be this brilliant oral history that Texas Monthly put together, which is full of fascinating detail about the TV series and the book.

If you enjoyed this episode, why not try our episode on Long Reads, where we tackled The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. We read it, but should you?


[coming soon]


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