Hollywood: A Third Memoir

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry has written some 30 novels. I’ve read about two-thirds of those, but I doubt I’d have bothered to read any of them if my first experience had begun with this lazy little effort. The writing is sloppy in the extreme. Within the first dozen pages, three different people are described as “nice,” and there is no shape to the chapters. Anecdotes are begun that go nowhere, and even in a book where namedropping is to be expected, the dropping of names here usually amounts to nothing more than just that—the mention of famous people glimpsed superficially, or from afar. For those interested in writers and writing, however, the book provides an example of how badly even pretty good writers can write. At age 73, with lots of readable novels under his belt, and a couple of good screenplays to his credit, McMurtry can look back at a very successful career, but he’s been skating on his reputation for about a decade, peddling his name to readers who have dependably bought his “brand” for a long time. It’s an abuse of reader goodwill, and it seems cynical, much like the tale McMurtry begins this book with, a story of giving grades to his literature students based on whether or not they could beat him at ping pong. Lazy and cheesy stuff.