Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Last Picture Show [1966]

The Last Picture Show, the first edition in American novelist Larry McMurtry’s ‘Duane Moore Series’, was that rare book for which the movie adaptation, by Peter Bogdanovich in 1971, was better as well as more popular, something even the author himself has gracefully acknowledged. In fact, few writers can boast of as many famous adaptations, and that too with so many having superseded the source novel’s reputation, as him – Hud (from Horsemen, Pass By), Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove are the ones that immediately catch attention along with this. With a prose and narrative style that was disarmingly simple and lucid – at times even to the book’s detriment by making it appear slight, the novel espoused such universal themes as loneliness, unrequited love, friendship, craving for physical intimacy and companionship, and growing up through a process of falling down and picking oneself up. In addition, it also touched base upon such aspects as social hypocrisy, moralistic stands on sex and relationships, and stark rich-poor divide that invariably brews contempt. Thalia is a dusty, windy and conservative one-horse Texan town where nothing much happens, and the place provided the perfect backdrop for its ensemble characters. Teenagers The shy Sonny and the hot-blooded Duane are best friends stuck at the placid place; Duane is madly in love with the pretty, rich and spoilt Jacy; Sonny gets into a illicit and liberating affair with the bullying football coach’s neglected middle-aged wife, while silently being in love with the teasing Jacy; Louise, Jacy’s mother, is a beautiful and independent-minded woman – aspects that are bound to alienate the town’s conservative folks; Sam the Lion is a compassionate and world-weary father-figure for the 2 boys and owner of the town’s pool hall, movie theatre and cafĂ©. Despite its share of flaws and shortcomings in terms of character layers, narrative strength and subtlety of depictions, the book managed to be a gently affecting, quietly melancholic, and scandalously frank coming of age story.

Author: Larry McMurtry
Genre: Drama/Rural Drama/Coming-of-Age/Buddy Novel
Language: English
Country: US