Larry McMurtry (b. 3 June 1936): “Looking back isn’t natural for Americans – historical ignorance is a national characteristic.”

3 Jun



Larry McMurtry (born 3 June 1936) is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller, and screenwriter whose work is mostly set in the old West or in contemporary Texas. He is best known for his novel Terms of Endearment, his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove, and for co-writing the adapted screenplay for Brokeback MountainLonesome Dove was adapted into a television miniseries and both Terms of Endearment and Brokeback Mountain won Academy Awards.

Quotes on writing:

  1. I can write characters that major actors want to play, and that’s how movies get made.
  2. One thing I don’t do is read fiction while writing fiction. It interferes with my imagination.
  3. Most of my books start with an ending. Then I go backwards and write towards the ending.
  4. Backward is just not a natural direction for Americans to look – historical ignorance remains a national characteristic.
  5. I suppose the fact that I’ve written 41 books on a manual typewriter might be distinctive in the age of computers.
  6. If I’m writing, I sit down and write five or 10 pages, depending upon how many pages a day I’ve decided to do for that particular writing project. No more and no less.
  7. You expect far too much of a first sentence. Think of it as analogous to a good country breakfast: what we want is something simple, but nourishing to the imagination.
  8. Life is inconsistent. Art is inconsistent. You work in the same vein for a lot of years, there are gonna be times when you like it better than other times. I think it’s true for any profession.
  9. I think the printed book is in danger. It will have a residual presence for a while, but not forever. It’s a revolution, as far as I’m concerned. Email, for example, constitutes a revolutionary form of correspondence.
  10. It is sometimes the minor, not the major, characters in a novel who hold the author’s affection longest. It may be that one loses affection for the major characters because they suck off so much energy as one pushes them through their lives.


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