cover image Literary Life: A Second Memoir

Literary Life: A Second Memoir

Larry McMurtry, . . Simon & Schuster, $24 (175pp) ISBN 978-1-4391-5993-4

In this, the second of three planned memoirs, McMurtry takes a laconic look back over a life in letters that now includes some 40 books and an equal number of screenplays. Best known for the popular movies made from his novels, including Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show , McMurtry also co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain and served two terms as the president of American PEN. This makes for a lot of literary living, and McMurtry reminisces about interactions with such luminaries as Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, and John Updike, as well as lesser-known figures like Michael Korda and Grover Lewis. Throughout his career, McMurtry has mostly written about his native Texas and the American West, and the early chapters provide a fascinating look into the artistic development of smalltown boy into writer during the 1950s and 1960s. Further on, the book declines into a series of hit-and-miss literary anecdotes, with McMurtry's side business as a bookseller providing many of the highlights. McMurtry's understated style is charming and deceptively sophisticated, although at times it is so laconic as to lack a pulse. Still, the old master proves entertaining. (Jan.)