cover image When the Light Goes

When the Light Goes

Larry McMurtry, . . Simon & Schuster, $24 (195pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-3426-6

With less than happy results, McMurtry picks up the story of Duane Moore (Duane's Depressed ) two years after he left him alone in a remote Texas cabin, suddenly widowed and among his fractious brood. As Duane, now 64, returns from an impromptu trip to Egypt, he's confronted by Anne Cameron, a young, flirtatious computer expert hired by Duane's son, Dickie (now manager of the small family oil company). Although smitten, Duane is still haunted by the memory of his wife, Karla, and also succumbs to a lassitude about his sex drive that ultimately reveals a more serious health problem. His therapist, Honor Carmichael, decides (after the death of her lover) that all Duane needs is some self-confidence, so she temporarily sets aside her professional ethics (and her lesbianism) to come to his aid. In the meantime, old friends die, as does his tiny town of Thalia (setting of six McMurtry novels, finally swallowed up by creeping sprawl), and his daughters annoy him. Bereft of subplot or complications, this slim novel reads like a short story, and the second half is dominated by vivid but curiously clinical sex scenes. Although amusing in places and full of sharp McMurtry observations and sentences, it's as weak a book as he has produced. (Mar.)