Sacagawea's Nickname: Essays on the American West Paperback – 15 May 2004
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"By humanizing the two-dimensional legend of the West, McMurtry matures and enlarges it."
"McMurtry doesn't debunk the mythic West; he honors it. This is a profound and frequently funny book."
-- "The New Yorker"
"In this enthralling collection of essays, all originally published in "The New York Review of Books", McMurtry touches on a broad variety of topics. With both compassion and brilliant critical insight, he illustrates how the best intentions of 'friends of the Indians' promoted disastrous policies in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. This treasure will inform and stir the emotions of both Western enthusiasts and general readers."
""Sacagawea's Nickname" reminds us of McMurtry's considerable strengths as a prose writer: sharp and often very funny powers of observation, a provocative presentation of self that is alternately self-deprecating and arrogant, and most of all, a prodigious bookman's belief in the spell of the written word that emanates off every page....He comes across in these pages as fully engaged and invigorated."
-- "The Texas Observer"
"This volume will appeal to a wide range of Western enthusiasts and those interested in good literature, whatever the region. McMurtry's insights are always penetrating, but his tribute to the poet-novelist Janet Lewis deserves careful reading. He studies her as an author over time and lays bare the unflinching honesty and subtlety he brought to both her poetry and her fiction and the tragic themes she explored. "Sacagawea's Nickname" is provocative in some parts, humorous in others, but always rewarding concerning those writers who have helped to shape our views of a region central to America's definition of itself."
-- "Great Plains Quarterly"
About the Author
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-four novels, including The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove, winner of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and, most recently, Folly and Glory. His nonfiction works include a biography of Crazy Horse, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, Paradise, and Sacagawea’s Nickname: Essays on the American West (published by New York Review Books). He lives in Archer City, Texas.
Top Customer Reviews
The twelve chapters in this short (178 pages) hardback cover diverse topics, the unifying thread being McMurtry's insight into what has shaped, for better or worse, the modern public's perception of our nation's frontier heritage. He does this by examining the influence of some well-known icons - Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Zane Grey, Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea - as well as some that are perhaps not so widely famous - authors Patricia Limerick and Janet Lewis, historian James Wilson, geologist John Wesley Powell, and anthropologists Frank Cushing and Matilda Stevenson.
Because of the great pleasure I've derived from McMurtry's novels, I looked forward to what I hoped would be a series of humorous, scintillatingly clever, and informative insights. It pains me to say that I found the volume as a whole to be somewhat lackluster. His chapter on Buffalo Bill was rambling, and the one on the Zuni tribe and the anthropologists who studied it too esoteric. His criticism of Western pulpmeister Zane Grey so lacked definition that I can't say even now what McMurtry's objection to the former is except perhaps that he wasn't capable of editing his own prose (but left it to his wife). His essay on John Wesley Powell was positively boring. And, except that Janet Lewis is apparently one of McMurtry's favorite writers, I cannot fathom why the author included a chapter on her at all. Perhaps it's because she lives in the West.Read more ›
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