Telegraph Days by Larry McMurtry
Publication Date: 2008-06-17
Not since the publication of his own beloved classic "Lonesome Dove" has there been a novel like this one -- another big, brilliant, unputdownable saga of the West from Larry McMurtry. "Telegraph Days" is at once a major work of literature and a completely absorbing read, not just great fiction, but fiction on a great scale, encompassing many years, many characters, real and fictional, and the whole vast landscape of place, time, life, and heart, which has served for more than one hundred thirty years as the background for "the Western" in fiction and on the screen. Nobody writes, or has ever written, better about the West than Larry McMurtry, and nobody has caught better in words its myths, its often brutal reality, its overwhelming size, and the way it captured both the imagination and the hopes of those who settled there, only, as was so often the case, to dash those hopes. Told in the voice of Nellie Courtright, a spunky, courageous, attractive young woman whose story this is in part, "Telegraph Days" is the big novel of the Western gunfighters that people have been hoping for years Larry McMurtry would write. When Nellie and her brother Jackson are unexpectedly orphaned by their father's suicide on his new and unprosperous ranch, they make their way to the nearby town of Rita Blanca, where Jackson manages to secure a job as a sheriff's deputy, while Nellie, ever resourceful, becomes the town's telegrapher. Together, they inadvertently put Rita Blanca on the map when young Jackson succeeds in shooting down all six of the ferocious Yazee brothers in a gunfight that brings him lifelong fame but which he can never repeat because his success came purely out of luck. Propelled by her own energy and commonsense approach to life, Nellie meets and almost conquers the heart of Buffalo Bill, the man she will love most in her long life, and goes on to meet, and witness the exploits of, Billy the Kid, the Earp brothers, and Doc Holliday. She even gets a ringside seat at the Battle at the O.K. Corral, the most famous gunfight in Western history, and eventually lives long enough to see the West and its gunfighters turned into movies. Full of life, love, shootings, real Western heroes and villains, "Telegraph Days" is Larry McMurtry at his epic best, in his most ambitious Western novel since "Lonesome Dove."