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Buffalo Girls


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About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.


McMurtry's ( Anything for Billy ) meandering, gentle-humored threnody for the passing of the old Wild West, assembles an eclectic crew of aging friends, both fictional and historic. In the late 1800s, ex-beavermen Jim Ragg and Bartle Bone ramble over the prairie, sleep in ghost towns and lament the days when ``beaver still splashed in the cool streams of the west.'' With them travels Indian scout No Ears, whose acute senses are keyed to the animal and spirit worlds. In Miles City, Mont., softhearted Dora runs her fancy bordello, bewailing her lost cowboy T. Blue, who married a half-Indian bride but who still yearns for and visits the lovelorn madam. Dora finally weds young giant Ogden, gets pregnant and buys Miner's Rest, a proper hotel, signaling that the ``era of the buffalo girls'' is also over. Interspersed throughout the narrative are sharpshooter Calamity Jane's brooding letters to her daughter, Janey, whose father was Wild Bill Hickok. A trip to England with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show fails to cheer the gang, and they return home to sink into melancholy and death. McMurtry's genius with language always enchants, but this tale's charm is muffled by sadness. Literary Guild featured alternate. (Oct.)

McMurtry, a prolific mythologizer/demythologizer of the Old West, here takes on Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary, 1852?-1903)--who confesses in a series of letters to being a drunken hell-raiser but never an outlaw--and sundry larger-than-life cohorts. The author's talent for characterizations and storytelling shines as he depicts gritty events and relationships in the life of fur trappers and Indians who, along with Calamity Jane, must resort to performing in Bill Cody's Wild West show in order to survive. They exploit and are exploited by their frontier lifestyle before being defeated by it in the end. A spellbinding saga with a surprise ending. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/90.-- Will Hepfer, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.

Houston Chronicle Not since Lonesome Dove has [Larry McMurtry] written so movingly about the disappearance of the West.
The New York Times A wonderfully warm and touching elegy to the passing of the frontier...a salute to the dying West, as rendered through McMurtry's wonderfully quirky characters.
Newsday Buffalo Girls is as pure and sweet as a waltz played on a cold night. You'll love it.

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