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The Last Picture Show (The Last Picture Show #1)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  8,083 ratings  ·  413 reviews
In The Last Picture Show Larry McMurtry introduced characters who would show up again in later novels, Texasville and Duane's Depressed. This first volume of the trilogy drops the reader into the one-stoplight town of Thalia, Texas, where Duane Moore, his buddy Sonny, and his girlfriend Jacy are all stumbling along the rocky road to adulthood. Duane wants nothing more than ...more
Paperback, 220 pages
Published June 28th 1979 by Penguin Books (first published 1966)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Sonny, Duane, and Jacy come of age in a dusty Texas town. What will happen to them once they graduate high school?

I snagged this for the princely sum of $1.99 on the Kindle. It was worth every penny.

As I said in the teaser, The Last Picture Show is a coming of age tale, a tale of what happens to people as they get older and drift apart. While I never read it before, it fit like a favorite t-shirt.

Larry McMurty paints a vivid picture of small town life as Sonny and the rest graduate high school a
...more
Kemper
”The only really important thing that I came in to tell you was that life is very monotonous. Things happen the same way over and over again. I think it’s more monotonous in this part of the country than it is other places, but I don’t really know that – it may be monotonous everywhere. I’m sick of it myself. Everything gets old if you do it often enough.”

Set during the early 1950s in the small Texas town of Thalia, the story revolves around Sonny, an independent high school senior who plays foo
...more
Greg
Four stars, because I think three is too little, but four is too many. I'd like to give this one three and a half stars please. Generally everything was very nice in this book (if a book that reads like a car crash can be said to be nice), and I found myself pretty engaged in the story, but there was something about the book that made me think, yeah I kinda read this one before, maybe not set in a high school football loving Texas town, but still something that I've read before in a similar but ...more
Daniel
I first read "The Last Picture Show" when I was around the same age as the three main characters, Sonny, Duane, and Jacy, and the novel had a powerful effect on me. McMurtry's descriptions were crisp and uncluttered, capturing perfectly the lonely, lost feeling of finishing high school. There's a sense of loss associated with leaving school and finding work, becoming distanced from one's friends, and this sense of solitude in "The Last Picture Show" is exaggerated by the setting: the small town ...more
Amanda
I cannot understand how this book has received such high ratings. It was only the second book I have ever been unable to finish due to pure distaste for it. It's described as a "coming of age" story, but all I picked up on was that "this is a fucked up town full of fucked up people".
For instance: Duane and Jacy. The star couple of the high school. Jacy's family is rich, Duane is poor. Jacy's parents don't like Duane, blah blah blah. Typical storyline for a rich girl and a poor boy. Jacy is thin
...more
Carol Storm
I love this book -- it has so much sadness, but there's nothing weak or self-pitying about any of the characters. They just carry on, even without a purpose in their lives.

Larry McMurtry is a genius at taking stuff that would be unspeakably horrible if it weren't so funny, and then making it really funny.

One obvious issue no one else has mentioned is the irony that this book was written long before the LONESOME DOVE novels, yet it deals with the Texas that rangers Call and McRae sacrificed so
...more
bookczuk
I was less than swept away by this book. In fact, I didn't finish it, because I just couldn't stomach it. I guess playing pool, drunken Saturday nights, baiting the disabled, sex with heifers, infidelity and other gems are not my cuppa. I saw the movie years ago, but barely remember it.


Edited April 20, 2010
I wrote this review back in 2008. Clearly I have pushed someone's button's by disliking what is a favorite book of theirs. Sorry folks. I didn't like it. That's not to say it wasn't well writ
...more
Ron
The melancholy at the heart of this novel is heartbreaking. And if you know the movie, you have a really good idea of the characters, setting and storyline of McMurtry's novel. Like the movie, the novel itself is in black and white. A handful of likable characters are surrounded by small-town ignorance and trapped by circumstance or their own limited understanding of the world. Meanwhile, much of the story takes place in the bitter cold, colorless months of north Texas winter.

A year passes, from
...more
Nick
The fact that Larry McMurtry was name checked by no less an intellectual powerhouse than George W Bush as his favorite author, has for years prejudiced me against him.

On seeing the revival of 'The Last Picture Show' earleir this year, my interest was peaked and I ordered the source material, the McMurtry novel the film is based on.

I have to say it was one of my better decisions because in my opinion it's a rather unjustly overlooked minor classic.

I would describe it as beautifully written but wh
...more
Sara
At the risk of pissing off many of the good people who use this site, I gotta say there are few critical statements that yank my chain more than "I didn't like/relate to any of the characters." I know people read for a myriad of reasons and no one way should be prized as "right" over another. But still. Perhaps I was a bit more primed for what I was in for because I've seen and loved the movie many times but it is still a bit disappointing to see so many readers take such a judgmental tack with ...more
Bonnie
Sure, it's depressing, but it's a great read. The movie (in black and white) is good, as it stays pretty close to the book, but the book is still better.
Scott
James Breech, in his book Jesus and Postmodernism delights in the postmodernity of Jesus’ parables. He writes, “In place of closure, ending, or finality, at the end of these stories we have opening and complexity, a sudden revelation of the genuine ambiguity that occurs when the consequences of actions are seen in terms of the way they penetrate the lives of others.”

That quote kept coming to me as I read Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show. It seemed that this modern story was conveying the s
...more
Sheila Rocha
I was compelled to look at this novel in a different light.The presence of craft was too profound for me not to appreciate this text in the light of creative composition. McMurty constructed for us a dynamic piece of writing in the sense that the reader was indubitably drawn into a story “telling”. In the midst of such a huge cast of characters, all rich with their own particular brand of pitifulness, we are presented with fully fleshed characters. They are a rich blend of bittersweet qualities ...more
Clint
I think this was one of the author's first books, and that shows a lot, which is why it gets 3 stars and not 4. It's kind of a slice of life book, no real plot, just a series of funny, sad events in a shit-hole Texas town. I feel Larry McMurtry couldn't quite find the right tone for the book, sometimes it seems like a sad novel that really shows the drudgery of this certain kind of life, like The Moviegoer. But then at other times it's almost slapstick satire, like the scene where a school's bas ...more
Chuybacca
I guess you could call this a coming-of-age novel, but 1) I've never particularly enjoyed coming-of-age novels, and 2) it's not for that aspect of the book that I liked it.

I loved this book for the way McMurtry vividly painted the setting of one small town (and consequently, many other small towns like it). I didn't find myself identifying or personally involved with the characters, but that's ok. I took the whole cast of characters in as support for the overall characterization and mood of the
...more
Laura
Definitely one of the more personally distubring books I've read, both for what occurs in it, and for how other readers react to it like it all makes perfectly realistic sense. My high school experience apparently was highly unusual in lacking constant bizarre sexuality, because I can't seem to relate to much of anything here. I read it very quickly, from a certain train-crash standpoint, but I don't really understand how this is "realistic" or insightful into adolescence. Maybe you need a small ...more
Reid
Is there a term for a boring omniscient narrator who doesn't commit to any judgment and hardly knows anything except who did what and when? This is almost pure slow action and I found it mostly uninteresting. Maybe I'm spoiled, or maybe this is dated. It was published in '66, but takes place, by one late reference to a current Korean war, in the early 50's - I was assuming it was the 60's, you can't tell in such a small town setting. It's a pretty insular story, and mundanely told, of a dull Tex ...more
Whitney
This really should've been a four-star book.

There is so much that has stuck with me in the weeks since it's been read: Ruth's beautiful vulnerability, the depth of disparaging competitiveness between Jacy and her mother, the protective love of Sam the Lion for Billy, and Billy's sweeping through the town, like there exists some prayer of cleaning the place up. Even the town itself, its bleak streets, sucking the life out of anyone fool enough to live there...

What didn't stick with me about this
...more
Daniel Stafford
I think it would be perfectly fair to say that I do not like role-fulfillment. By that I mean that I do not believe any of us are born into a role that we must fill until the day we die.

The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry seems, to me, to explore the issue of the roles people are supposed to play.

Each character in the novel is faced with a crux in which they can continue to go on with what is expected of them (whether that role is as a housewife, as a man, as a wealthy teen, as a preacher, e
...more
Rachel
The Last Picture Show was a quick, enjoyable read but not really a thriller or much of a nail biter (though I doubt it's supposed to be). I liked it, but it didn't knock me off my feet the way Lonesome Dove did.

I kind of wish I'd read TLPS before LD--and maybe it's not fair to compare the two novels, since McMurtry had almost 20 years to develop as a writer between 1966 and 1985. Also, at nearly 1,000 pages, LD requires a lot more emotional investment than TLPS, which has fewer than 300.

So yeah
...more
Mark Nawrocki
life in a small town.........sonny and duane are high school football players dealing with day to day life in a one horse town.....read the book and saw the movie.......both fantastic.....highly recommended
Kathy Hiester
I found the book at the local Book Warehouse and it looked extremely interesting. If you are trying to equate this book to McMurtys other illustrious novels well then it's certainly no Pulitzer winner but if you are a lover of books that treasures the hunt as much as the find then you will like this book. McMurtry has lead a captivating life in his book dealings and the stories he tells about the "book scouts" and "book dealers" are fascinating. I think anyone that collects has a lot of wonderfu ...more
Steve
This book is special to me because it was the first one I ever read that you could consider grown up. Before that, the range of human emotion I'd seen expressed on a page went from joy at having driven in the winning run to devastation after the boy's best friend (of the canine variety) died.

McMurtry created real flesh and blood characters. Some of the flesh even had thoughts and feelings (unlike the women in, say, Ball Four). I quickly realized that I liked having an omniscient voice telling me
...more
Taylor
Aug 08, 2014 Taylor rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
Excellent bildungsroman. One of the best I've read of its kind. At first I didn't care for the third person omniscient narration, but about 30% of the way through I realized that McMurtry was following quite a few characters and it was exciting to see what each of them were thinking--teens and adults alike. Though it began like a YA novel, the three main characters--Sonny, Duane, and Jacy--started dealing with situations beyond their years.* One character's problems went from wondering how he wo ...more
AJ
1,5 stars

I really can't get into a book that doesn't pass the Bechdel test. I realize it's a product of its time, but I don't know how a book about a bunch of men, where women are relegated to jealous sex partners, has any relevance to my life whatsoever. None of the characters were particularly likable, except for the ones that get killed off.
Sarah
Mar 21, 2008 Sarah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: Book Club
Book Club pick....I actually have wanted to read Larry McMurtry for some time, though this would not have been my first pick of his books. I had seen the movie years ago and did not enjoy it. The movie itself is not bad, but I never quite got into the story or the characters. I had the same problem with the book. I just could not relate or find any ounce of caring for any of the characters in the story. This is not always a bad thing, but it is hard to for me to invest my time into a story or ch ...more
Lauren
Jun 11, 2007 Lauren rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone looking for a sex-heavy coming of age story
I thought I would really like this novel. I am a huge fan of McMurtry's work, All My Friends are Going to be Strangers. But from the start to end of this novel, I found many aspects of it disturbing and annoying. Every character is unlikable, either because of their actions of adultery, cheating, disloyalty, or because they are happily content in their unmoving relationships and situations.

This novel is described as a coming of age story, but really, it just includes many awkward sex scenes, whi
...more
Robert
This moody & insightful multiple character study features various damaged people in the small west Texas town of Thalia in the early 1950’s. While the older folks try to cope with failed dreams and disappointments, the young high school students slowly go sort of nuts in that peculiar small town combination of sexual frustration, boredom, and the meanness born of narrow expectations. The final picture McMurtry paints features some small rays of hope shining through a rather bleak appraisal. ...more
Ed
Larry McMurtry's Thalia, Texas, during the months before the Korean War differs from the small town I grew up in located in Virginia. Sex is a preoccupation for one thing in Thalia. Not just the lust part but it's about the loneliness and alienation the various townspeople feel to their very bones. Duane, Sonny, and the rich girl Jacy swirl in and out of each others lives just like the tumbleweeds do. Football and pool are a big deal, too. An enjoyable, fast read. I've seen parts of the 1971 mov ...more
Amanda
Apr 18, 2008 Amanda rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody. ever.
In my opinion (for what it's worth), another pointless "coming of age" book. I was sooooo disappointed, considering how much I adore the Lonesome Dove series. I was okay with it until the cow fornicating. You lost me there, Larry.

(And I'm really struggling through "Texasville," its sequal. Don't think I'll bother with the rest. I can only take so much moral corruptitude and ambivilousness toward outrageously bad behavior - all in the name of small-town boredom. And it's a good thing I already l
...more
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1055
Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was adapted into the film "Hud".

McMurty went on to publish many more novels, a number of which went on to become movies as well as a TV mini-series.
More about Larry McMurtry...
Lonesome Dove Terms of Endearment Streets of Laredo Comanche Moon Dead Man's Walk

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“Is growin' up always miserable?" Sonny asked. "Nobody seems to enjoy it much."
"Oh, it ain't necessarily misearble," Sam replied. "About eighty percent of the time, I guess."
They were silent again, Sam the Lion thinking of the lovely, spritely girl he had once led into the water, right there, where they were sitting.
"We ought to go to a real fishin' tank next year," Sam said finally. "It don't do to think about things like that too much. If she were here now I'd probably be crazy again in about five minutes. Ain't that ridiculous?"
A half-hour later, when they had gathered up the gear and were on the way to town, he answered his own question. "It ain't really, " he said. "Being crazy about a woman like her's always the right thing to do. Being a decrepit old bag of bones is what's ridiculous.”
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“Why hell yes, Joe Bob! A cripple can always get himself a wooden leg, or a glass eye, or a metal hook for a hand, or any of that mess -- but there ain't no known substitute for a big dick. I guess you is out of luck!” 3 likes
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