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The Last Picture Show (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Larry McMurtry
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2011 Penguin Modern Classics

Sam the Lion runs the pool-hall, the picture house and the all-night café. Coach Popper whips his boys with towels and once took a shot at one when he disturbed his hunting. Billy wouldn't know better than to sweep his broom all the way to the town limits if no one stopped him. And teenage friends Sonny and Duane have nothing better to do than drift towards the adult world, with its temptations of sex and confusions of love.

The basis for a classic film, The Last Picture Show is both extremely funny and deeply profound. And, with the eccentrically peopled Thalia, Texas, Larry McMurtry made a small town that feels as real as any you've ever walked around.

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The Last Picture Show (Penguin Modern Classics) + Texasville (Thalia Trilogy)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (3 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141194448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141194448
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


'An alchemist who converts the basest materials into gold' (The New York Times Book Review )

'There aren't many writers around who are as much fun as Larry McMurtry' (Boston Globe )

About the Author

Larry McMurtry (born June 3, 1936) is an American essayist, bookseller, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, who wrote the screenplay of Brokeback Mountain. He has published 21 novels, and also operates antiquarian bookshops in Washington DC, Texas and Arizona.

Mary Karr (born January 16, 1955) is an American poet, essayist and memoirist. She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir The Liars' Club. She is the Peck Professor of English Literature at Syracuse University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Town America 3 Mar 2011
Back in print and easily available once again is Larry McMurtry's modern classic, this time being issued by Penguin. You may not have read the book, but you have probably seen the film in which Cybil Shepherd made her big screen debut.

Set in a fictional small town, Thalia, Texas (although this is believed to actually be Archer City in Texas in real life). This is a coming of age tale with regards to the more prominent characters, but also this is how you imagine a small sleepy town to be. On the surface you don't expect much to happen, you have a few oddball characters, and that is it. But beneath the surface you soon find that the town is a seething hotbed of sex. The main character is Sonny, who ends up having an affair with the Phys Ed teacher's wife, you also have Jacy, a girl that just wants to get attention and have all the men after her; as well as more characters and situations.

Why this works is that you won't like all the characters, but you can understand them, so it feels more real life and gritty. Thalia seems so real that you feel like you have been there. There is humour in this book, but it is more along the lines of dark comedy, and there is a certain bleakness to the story.

One thing is definite though, long after you finish this it stays fresh in your mind and imagination, it feels like you have really been to the town, and that you intimately know most of the citizens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Town Gem 11 Nov 2011
The Last Picture Show is a wonderful evocation of 1950's small town life in Thalia, Texas. Larry McMurtry writes powerfully and passionately from both female and male perspectives bringing a host of characters to life. There's Sonny Crawford, the boy who wants Jacy but has to settle for second best, Sam the Lion who runs the town's entertainment venues, mixed up kid Billy, basketball coach Popper who's a sexual invert married to the depressed Ruth, frightening mother and daughter combo Lois and Jacy Farrow and Duane who's a hellraising young stud. And I haven't even mentioned pool wizard Abilene or rich kid Bobby Sheen who drives a Ford Thunderbird - the list is endless.
McMurtry brings all of these characters vividly to life making them all utterly real as well as totally believable. One can identify with Sonny who yearns for Jacy but has to settle for Charlene. You feel for poor old washed up Ruth as she has to put up with her boorish husband's antics. And one can root for the simple kid Billy who has no career prospects and no future outside of his town Thalia, a town he can never leave.
Thalia is the sort of town where nothing much happens so it's a mass of seething gossip about the small things in life. Everyone knows everyone else's business whether it be about work, money, relationships or just having a falling out with a friend. For such people just going to a dance in a nearby town like Wichita is a big deal and the highlight of the week - one they'll talk about for days afterwards. Everyone has a small town mentality in every sense of the phrase.
The story ends in tragedy of course - it just had to. And along the way there's heartache, unrequited love, marriage break up, madness in Mexico and death in the afternoon.
The novel is even better than the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic writing from my favorite author 23 Sep 2001
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I,m a great fan of this author and have been ever since reading my favorite book Lonesome dove. Once again his writing is a form of poetry, with such great dialogue and characterisation. He evokes the modern West as well as he did the wild West in the above mentioned novel. Read it you won't be disapointed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small Town USA Revealed 21 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A realistic account of growing up in small town west Texas. Well written and utterly believable characters and plot. A great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McMurtry's Classic Evocation Of Youth 26 July 2012
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Larry McMurtry's 1966 novel The Last Picture Show is an outstanding evocation of life in small town America (set in the real life town of Thalia in Texas), focusing on the lives of lifelong friends and high school seniors, Sonny and Duane. Written in a deceptively simple prose style, McMurtry does a remarkable job, in what is a relatively short novel of around 220 pages, of conjuring up a poetic, but very tangible and convincing, vision of the intertwining lives of this 'off the beaten track' community.

The novel's tone engenders a range of emotions in the reader, from anger and despair to sympathy and sadness, as McMurtry's characters struggle to survive in a world where male machismo is the accepted norm (with frequent bouts of drinking and whoring) and where (even hints of) homosexuality will not to be tolerated. However, beneath the surface there lurks a more complex set of human emotions, of misplaced ambition, loneliness, sympathy for the disadvantaged, social divisions and yearning for the past. On the way, McMurtry constructs a brilliantly drawn set of characters, including enigmatic pool hall, cinema and café owner Sam The Lion, bigoted sports Coach Popper, ignored and frustrated wife Ruth Popper, centre of male attention, and girlfriend of both Sonny and Duane, Jacy Farrow, boozy and promiscuous Lois Farrow (mother of Jacy) and simple-minded street sweeper Billy. As Sonny and Duane come to realise that their exuberant days of chasing girls and boozing are coming to an end, so McMurtry's poignant tale also marks the end of an era for this tight-knit community and tragic circumstances lead to the closing of the picture house.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lonely lone star town
Texas in all its emptiness
Published 1 month ago by B. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book in good condition
Published 1 month ago by Mrs Charlotte Hulme
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story
This is one of the best stories I have read in the last forty years or so. It went on to be a great film as well. I would recommend it to anybody who wants a good read.
Published 2 months ago by Ron Hills
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I hoped for
A slice of Americana from the great McMurtry. From the the first page you're immersed in the atmosphere of nostalgic small town Texas life and somehow care desperately about the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Susanne A
5.0 out of 5 stars for a friend
i was asked by a friend to order this book on their behalf as they had read it before and highly rec it
Published 16 months ago by .
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
I've loved the film from the first time I saw it many years ago so, I decided at long last to read the book. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr R H BULL
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving
A book that takes humanity's desire for freedom by the throat and drains it of hope. Dark and simple - a beautiful exploration of the hum drum of life
Published 17 months ago by Lucy pru
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
4.5 stars. I couldn't find the copy of the book I have, which is apparently an original hardback from 1966, but I suppose it doesn't matter regarding the review. Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2012 by Blackbeard
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing out of immaturity's trashy behavior
"The room mothers were scandalized by the number of bars in the city and kept everyone in a tight group to protect them against lurking perverts. Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2011 by Joseph Haschka
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