American novelist Larry McMurtry has died. The beloved and prolific novelist, accomplished screenwriter and antiquarian bookseller was 84.
McMurtry was the author of more than 30 novels including Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment, all of which were adapted for the screen. He was also the co-writer of the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, based on a short story by Annie Proulx. The 2005 film earned eight Academy Award nominations with three wins, including Best Adapted Screenplay.
In their recollection of the great writer today, the New York Times reminds us that McMurtry was also well known as a bookseller:
For some 50 years, Mr. McMurtry was also a serious antiquarian bookseller. His bookstore in Archer City, Booked Up, is one of America’s largest. It once occupied six buildings and contained some 400,000 volumes. In 2012 Mr. McMurtry auctioned off two-thirds of those books and planned to consolidate. About leaving the business to his heirs, he said: “One store is manageable. Four stores would be a burden.”
Mr. McMurtry’s private library alone held some 30,000 books and was spread over three houses. He called compiling it a life’s work, “an achievement equal to if not better than my writings themselves.”
McMurtry was born to a ranching family in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1936. Recalls the Times:
The family lived in what Mr. McMurtry called a “bookless ranch house” outside of Archer City, and later in the town itself. Archer City would become the model for Thalia, a town that often appeared in his fiction.
He became a serious reader early, and discovered that the ranching life was not for him. “While I was passable on a horse,” he wrote in “Books,” his 2008 memoir, “I entirely lacked manual skills.”