The Last Picture Show Paperback – 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this. I found it on a list of books you must read...I'd never heard of it and thought I'd give it a go. I loved his wit and portrayal of his characters.Published 4 months ago by Amy Dawson
McMurtry evokes a lonely empty landscape; wide sky, featureless flat terrain, the wind blowing across the plains, and the town like an island in the midst of it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by J F Ahern
A lively read and a definate page turner. Likeable characters although there isn't much in the way of a plot. Just a jaunt through a year of a youngs lads life in the deep south.Published 22 months ago by David Simpson
I read this before watching the Film again. It was great seeing the characters come to life on the screen.Published 22 months ago by Mrmichaelgilbertson