He moved to the Washington area and, with a partner, opened his first Booked Up store in 1971, specializing in rare books. He opened the largest Booked Up, in Archer City, in 1988 and owned and operated it until his death.
In a 1976 profile of Mr. McMurtry published in The New Yorker, Calvin Trillin observed his talents as a book buyer. “Larry knows which shade of blue cover on a print of ‘Native Son’ indicates a first impression and which does not,” Mr. Trillin wrote. “He knows the precise value of Robert Lowell’s books of poetry that Robert Lowell may have now forgotten to write.”
A talent for female characters
While much of Mr. McMurtry’s writing dealt with the West or its Texan heritage, he also wrote novels about Washington (âCadillac Jackâ), Hollywood (âSomebody’s Darlingâ) and Las Vegas. (“The Desert Rose”). There was a comedic brilliance in his best books, alongside an ever-present melancholy. He has been praised for his ability to create memorable and believable female characters, including self-centered widow Aurora Greenway in âTerms of Endearment,â played by Shirley MacLaine in the film version.
In the novel, Aurora is frank about her appetites. âOnly a saint can live with me, and I cannot live with a saint,â she said. âOlder men don’t depend on me, and younger men aren’t interested. “
âI believe the only gift that led me to a career in fiction was the ability to create characters that readers connect with,â Mr. McMurtry once wrote. “My characters move them, which is also why these same characters move them when they meet them on screen.”
His early novels were generally well reviewed, although Thomas Lask, writing about ‘The Last Picture Show’ in The Times Book Review, said: âMr. McMurtry is not exactly a typewriter virtuoso. Other critics would echo this complaint. Mr. McMurtry has written too much, some said, and the quantity has exceeded the quality. “I pull 10 pages a day,” Mr. McMurtry boasted in “Books.”
Some felt that Mr. McMurtry clouded memories of some of his best books, including “The Last Picture Show,” “Lonesome Dove,” and “Terms of Endearment,” by writing them sequels, sequels that sometimes turned out to be. in tetralogies or even in quintets. . It was hard to remember from his âTales of Berrybender,â a four-book frontier soap opera, the writer who delivered âLonesome Doveâ.