The look of the town

At a panel at Saints and Sinners which I intend to post about later, the moderator had the writers read first lines from one of their works. On the Colorado trip, as we rode through small towns of the Texas Panhandle, I kept telling Tim I was looking for the last picture show. Later, when David Puterbaugh saw some of my photos from the trip, he, too, brought up the movie The Last Picture Show, which is a favorite of mine, along with Larry McMurtry’s novel. I also like the sequels to both the book (Texasville and Duane’s Depressed) and the movie (Texasville).

I’ve always been an avid McMurtry reader and once considered writing my Masters thesis on his works. Regarding this particular novel, I appreciate how McMurtry’s opening immediately puts me in the setting and inside Sonny’s head, and how the novel remains with me, so that I’m still looking for that old theater and Sonny, Duane, and Jacy in every small town.

Sometimes Sonny felt like he was the only human creature in the town. It was a bad feeling, and it usually came on him in the mornings early, when the streets were completely empty, the way they were one Saturday morning in late November. The night before Sonny had played his last game of football for Thalia High School, but it wasn’t that that made him feel so strange and alone. It was just the look of the town.

Larry McMurtry, The Last Picture Show


11 thoughts on “The look of the town”

  1. I’ve never heard of those books! I think. Or maybe I have and then forgot. I’m getting old. They’re definitely going on my ever-growing ‘To Read’ list, though.

    Lovely photo. Black and white is so atmospheric, don’t you think? The identical shot just wouldn’t be the same in colour (there I go with my extra letters!). And how can a street be so quiet..?

    1. Quiet streets like this reside in Warrington (that really blah area between Manchester and Liverpool), on a Sunday,

    1. I made it black and white as my homage to The Last Picture Show, which was quite a departure in that Peter Bogdanovich shot it in black and white in 1971.

  2. I don’t know why, but I have never read any of his books or see any of those movies. But that does look like a dusty little western town.

    1. When I find a writer I like, I tend to read everything I can get my hands on by him or her. With McMurtry, I probably read the Houston books first, long before I ever moved here or knew anyone here. You should check his wiki page to see the stand-alones and the books that share characters.

      Character-driven novels, just the way I like.

      Horseman, Pass By was adapted for the Paul Newman movie Hud.

  3. After watching The Last Picture Show during TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar (as well as The Paper Chase) I wondered why Timothy Bottoms didn’t become a bigger star, like Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd.

  4. Alas, there are no more houses of dreams and flickering images. The old movie houses are just a part of our fond memories. The buildings have fallen or been torn down, and any that survive have been converted into non-denominational churches.

    1. We have one in the neighborhood! Still shows movies, too. Every few years it’s almost razed with the rest of that block by some developer, and somehow public reaction continues to win.

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