Larry McMurtry, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Lonesome Dove’, dies at 84


DALLAS (AP) – Larry McMurtry, the prolific and popular author who took readers to the American Old West in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Lonesome Dove,” and brought them back to modern landscapes in works such as his moving story of a mother. . -The daughter’s relationship in “Terms of affection” has died. He was 84 years old.

McMurtry died Thursday night of heart failure, according to a family statement released via a publicist on Friday. The statement did not say where he died, but noted that he will be buried “in his beloved home state of Texas.”

McMurtry, who in his later years had divided his time between his small Texas hometown of Archer City and Tucson, Arizona, wrote dozens of books, including novels, biographies, and collections of essays. He worked simultaneously as a bookseller and screenwriter, co-writing the Oscar-winning script for the film “Brokeback Mountain.”

Several of McMurtry’s books were made into feature films, including the Oscars “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment.” His 1986 Pulitzer-winning epic “Lonesome Dove,” about a cattle drive from Texas across the Great Plains during the 1870s, became a popular television miniseries starring Robert Duvall, who has often cited the project as a personal favorite and have you compared your role. as retired Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae to appear in “Hamlet.”

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Writers Larry McMurtry, right, and Diana Ossana pose with their best screenplay awards for ‘Brokeback Mountain’ at the 63rd Annual Golden Globes Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 16, 2006. (AP Photo / Reed Saxon, File)

“‘Lonesome Dove’ was an effort to demystify the myth of the Old West,” McMurtry told The Associated Press in a 2014 interview. But, he added, “They will make it romantic no matter what you do.”

His third novel, “The Last Picture Show,” became a classic with its coming-of-age story set in a small town in Texas. He and director Peter Bogdanovich were nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay for the film, shot in Archer City, located about 140 miles (225 kilometers) northwest of Dallas. The 1983 film adaptation of “Terms of Endearment” was written and directed by James L. Brooks and received Oscars for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay, with awards for star Shirley MacLaine and supporting actor Jack Nicholson. .

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“Sitting here thinking about the greatness of Larry McMurtry,” Brooks tweeted on Friday. “Among the greatest writers of all time. I remember when he sent me to adapt” Terms, “his refusal to let me wow him. And the fact that he was personally working at the cash register of his rare book store while he was also doing it. “

McMurtry was born on June 3, 1936 into a family of ranchers. McMurtry attended what is now the University of North Texas at Denton and Rice University in Houston and was a member of the Stanford University Stegner Writing Fellowship.

President Barack Obama prepares to award the 2014 National Humanities Medal to novelist, essayist, and screenwriter Larry McMurtry during a ceremony at the White House in Washington on Sept. 10, 2015. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)

President Barack Obama prepares to award the 2014 National Humanities Medal to novelist, essayist, and screenwriter Larry McMurtry during a ceremony at the White House in Washington on Sept. 10, 2015. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta, file)

He wrote his first novel, “Horseman, Pass by”, at the age of 25 in 1961. It became the film “Hud,” starring Paul Newman, which came out two years later.

McMurtry opened his first rare used bookstore in 1971 in Washington, DC, and later opened other stores in Houston, Dallas, and Tucson.

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In the mid-1980s, lured by cheap real estate, he opened his Booked Up store in Archer City. Ultimately, the Archer City store was the only one left. It downsized the store, both in volume and in storefronts, in an effort dubbed The Last Book Sale, but retained around 200,000 volumes.

He had about 28,000 books at his nearby home in Archer City. “I am very attached to books. I need them. I need to be among them,” he told the AP in 2014.

In this April 30, 2014 file photo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry poses at his bookstore in Archer City, Texas.  McMurtry died at the age of 84 (AP Photo / LM Otero, file).

In this April 30, 2014 file photo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry poses at his bookstore in Archer City, Texas. McMurtry died at the age of 84 (AP Photo / LM Otero, file).

McMurtry’s writing collaboration with Diana Ossana began after she helped him come out of a depression after quadruple bypass heart surgery in 1991. They won the Academy Award for their screenplay for the 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain. “based on a story by Annie Proulx about two cowboys falling in love. His most recent novel, “The Last Kind Words Saloon”, was published in 2014.

He told the Associated Press in 1994 that his life throughout the 1980s had been an itinerant one, traveling between his bookstores across the country and a home in Los Angeles. Then the surgery forced him to stop moving. “I happened to stop at Diana’s kitchen table,” he said.

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The two, both divorced, had met at a Tucson catfish restaurant and struck up a friendship. After the surgery, McMurtry spent time sleeping in Ossana’s guest room, typing “Streets of Laredo” on a typewriter in her kitchen, or staring out the window.

She helped edit “Streets of Laredo” and then began encouraging him to accept screenwriting offers. “So I got a lot of offers from the movies. It was very popular, but I didn’t feel safe. I had had serious heart problems. I got a lot of offers and I think she just got tired of me. Turning them down,” he said.

When the offer came in for a script about Depression-era bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd, Ossana and McMurtry tackled it together and then wrote the novel “Pretty Boy Floyd.” After that, they collaborated on dozens of scripts.

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He married Jo Ballard in 1959 and three years later, the couple had a son, singer-songwriter James McMurtry. In 1966, they divorced. In 2011, he married for the second time: to Norma Faye Kesey, the widow of his old friend Ken Kesey, author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” They held their marriage ceremony at the Archer City Bookstore.

McMurtry’s family’s statement said he died surrounded by loved ones, including Ossana; his wife; your son; his grandson, Curtis; and his goddaughter, Sara Ossana. He is also survived by his sisters, Sue and Judy, and a brother, Charlie.

Don Graham, a professor of English and American literature at the University of Texas at Austin, said in a 2014 interview with the AP that McMurtry is “preeminently a storyteller.” “He’s a great character and dialogue creator. That’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful in Hollywood,” Graham said.

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