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Telegraph Days

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  1,949 Ratings  ·  194 Reviews
I've come to think that in times of crisis human beings don't have it in them to be rational. The Yazee gang was riding down upon us, six abreast. We all ran outside and confirmed that fact. The sensible thing would have been to run and hide -- but did we? Not at all.

The narrator of Larry McMurtry's newest book is spunky Nellie Courtright, twenty-two years old and already
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2006)
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May 20, 2009 Mick rated it did not like it
Pound for pound, few writers can compare with Larry McMurtry. The Pulitzer Prize winner has penned several contempary classics--among them, 'Terms of Endearment', 'The Last Picture Show', and the epic 'Lonesome Dove'.

So it's beyond disappointment when a writer as talented as McMurtry spits out a contrived, one-dimensional shell of a novel. And that's being kind to TELEGRAPH DAYS, McMurtry's "alleged" spoof of the cheap dime store novels of the 19th Century. This is a Western dominated by unimag
Jan 11, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This was a short novel on audio that I enjoyed listening to at times I couldn't read a "real" book.

It's a nice little picture of the old west through the eyes of Nellie Courtwright, a telegrapher and businesswoman. Along the way in her story, she meets just about all of the old west legends.

It's a little tongue-in-cheek, and a little dab into history at the same time. It has a dose of realism, showing how it wasn't all about blazing gunfights, but did show how those legends could evolve.

What I r
Nov 27, 2007 Kani rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: western history buffs, female enthusiasts
Since I listened to this book rather than read it, part of my review has to go to the reader. Annie Potts did an incredible job of making the diverse characters of the old west come alive. Especially our heroine, raised during the Civil War and come of age in the wild west of all our old favorites from Wild Bill to Buffalo Bill and everyone in between. She witnesses all the famous cowboy events of the time and does so with the perspective and demeanor of a Lady. It was so fun I didn't want it to ...more
Jun 29, 2011 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. This book was so good in the beginning. I loved the spunky heroine Nellie and the writing was actually funny. I thought it was going to be a fun light-hearted western spoof. But then Nellie started sleeping with every man she met and then left town with Buffalo Bill Cody--although she didn't sleep with him. She tried though. By then the book felt rushed and churned out and just got dumb really fast. It's like McMurtry just wrote this for some fast money from his publisher.
Sep 30, 2015 Jimmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mcmurtry
Howdy pardner. Reckon y'all wonderin' if this here book was any good. Well, dadgumit if this ain't one of the finest western books I ever listened to. And if you ain't in cahoots with the Earp brothers, you'll probably like it too. Mr. McMurtry has written hisself another rootin' tootin' shoot 'em up. This time with a lady narrator. I know what you're thinkin'. What? A lady narrator? What in tarnation does a lady know about the ol' west? Well, this one, read by Miss Annie Potts, knows quite a bi ...more
Sep 20, 2009 Sandie rated it liked it
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME, September 1, 2008
By Bookworm (St. George Utah) - See all my reviews

Larry McMurtrys Telegraph Days give us a glimpse of the old west from a woman's perspective. The woman in question is a 22 year old Virginia native, Nellis Courtright who with her 17 year old brother, Jackson, resides in the town of Rio Blanca, a nothing little place located in an area known as "no mans land". The towns tenuous claim to fame comes f
Sep 01, 2013 Meg rated it did not like it
I was surprised, when I read this book, at how truly boring it was, given the good reviews it had received. I am guessing that the reviewers were reminiscing more on the quality of McMurtry's 'Lonesome Dove' than on the quality of the writing in this particular novel.

The book began well enough, and the main character of Nellie started off full of mouth and grit. However, there was no character development, the woman's mouth and spunk became annoying over time and the character remained shallow.
Apr 13, 2008 Daniel rated it liked it
In "Telegraph Days," Larry McMurtry combines something of a tall tale with a revisionist Western, producing a quick, enjoyable read in the process. The tall-tale aspect of the novel comes from the narrator, Nellie Courtright, crossing paths with almost every signficiant real-life Western figure -- Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Buffalo Bill Cody, Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickock, and Wyatt Earp and his brothers among them -- as well as being an eyewitness to the shootout at the OK Corral.

The book's
Feb 06, 2014 Heather rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldntfinish
Well, this is kind of weird. I guess it's supposed to be a comic-ish tale of life in the Old West via the narrator Nellie Courtright, but it seems weird. Like, it starts the day after her father 'suicided himself,' and she kind of doesn't give a shit about it, but does give a shit about making out with every dude she meets. Which would be funny if it were meant to be a dry commentary on what a heartless person she is. And maybe it's supposed to be, but I guess it just kind of feels more empty to ...more
John Strohm
Mar 05, 2012 John Strohm rated it it was ok

This book started with great potential; a young man and woman who descended from minor gentry in Virginia find themselves alone in the West. The first few chapters are pretty entertaining, although you get a nagging worry as Nellie keeps mentioning famous historical figures who she dated. You think, "Oh, that'll probably go away" and keep reading.

But nope, the last two thirds of the book is an endless procession of celebrity cameos; many of them pointless. For example, she's on a train with a ra
Oct 22, 2015 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This started off over the top, and by the end I was wishing it stayed at that level throughout the book. Instead, it veers into Western sexcapade territory. How to describe....I think it's best described by movies. Take as a base "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" mixed liberally with "Forrest Gump". Give it the style of Seth MacFarlane's "A Million Ways to Die in the West". And aim toward the young adult/teen demographic by including a lot of humor and cartoonish sex, while aiming at a PG rating. And ...more
Oct 03, 2013 Philip rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, fiction, 1-star
Read any of the other 1-star reviews to see what the many problems are with this book. No need to repeat them here, since all the reviews say basically the same thing. Nellie Courtright is basically the Forrest Gump of the Old West -- if Forrest was intelligent, a woman, and a complete slut.

Packed with way too many characters -- "look, there's General Sherman for two pages serving no purpose whatsoever!" -- there is surprisingly little real plot past the first couple of chapters, when a potenti
Seth Kolloen
Jan 09, 2014 Seth Kolloen rated it did not like it
I only give this one star to warn you off it—it's not as bad as all that, but you should really pick up a different McMurtry book. I've probably read 20 of his, he's one of my two or three favorite authors, and this is by *far* the weakest.

Telegraph Days has a fascinating main character, but that's as far as he got. There's really no story, just a bunch of different incidents that don't tie together much at all. More like notes for a novel than a fully-fleshed work. If I started to give you a li
Feb 25, 2008 Janis rated it liked it
In the beginning of Telegraph Days, Nellie Courtright and her brother Jackson shake up the sleepy old west town of Rita Blanca. I would have been happy if the story stayed right there. But in further adventures, Nellie drifts around the country, meeting up with figures from western history and lore. I loved McMurtry's dialogue and the main characters in this story but disliked the drifting plot and lack of cohesion. Best -- I listened to it on cd, and the reader, Annie Potts, was pitch-perfect.
Nov 30, 2013 Northpapers rated it it was ok
A spunky woman goes around the American West, meets all the famous people of the time, enjoys "vigorous copulation" with most of the men,and participates in the marketing of her era.

Problem is, she's two-dimensional, impervious, and improbable. So her journey from event to event doesn't do anything to change her, and it begins to feel like a clever catalog of who was who in the Wild West, with an unconvincing lesson at the end, a bunch of witty dialogue and tons of unsexy sex.

Terry Cornell
Aug 27, 2015 Terry Cornell rated it liked it
Shelves: western
Not one of McMurtry's best written books, but still enjoyable. Written from the point of view of a woman who becomes a telegraph operator in the waning days of the wild west. Reminds me a little of Thomas Berger's 'Little Big Man' in that this fictional character meets several historic figures of the time. I really like the story line, and how McMurtry ended the story. Overall an entertaining read.
Paul Parsons
Jul 16, 2013 Paul Parsons rated it really liked it
A quick, entertaining read of the Wild West as only McMurtry can tell it. The heroine is a little like Forrest Gump and just happens to be witness to all the old characters and events that have come to be memorialized about those days in the late 1800s. I admitted to even getting a little emotional as her story wraps up and the characters die or fade away. Not the Lonesome Dove it was touted to be on the inside cover, but still very worthwhile.
Sep 09, 2007 Robert rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cowgirls
One of McMurtry's most entertaining books, if smaller in scale than the "Lonesome Dove" series. The heroine is a gutsy telegraph operator whose job puts her in contact with Buffalo Bill and other western legends.I don't know if the prolific McMurtry plans any sequels, but as a light-hearted look at Western myth-making, this makes a wonderful companion to "Buffalo Girls".
Aug 02, 2011 Eric rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fluff, and not in a particularly good way. I'd call it a slutty 19th century Forrest Gump, but that's an insult to sluts, the 19th century, and Forrest Gump. I only gave this one star because goodreads won't let you rate a book 0 stars.
Aug 30, 2013 Justin rated it it was amazing
Dang, there's such a melancholy wit in the language of the west and it's so pure in all of Larry McMurtry's novels. It's not just within the local vernacular but also in the stories that the people of the great plains find interesting enough to relate to folks who dutifully listen. I chose this book to read over the weekend because I was to spend that time very near the place where most of this book takes place and I wanted to, along with the accompanying visuals of the plains, match the cadence ...more
Sep 01, 2013 Meg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised, when I read this book, at how truly boring it was, given the good reviews it had received. I am guessing that the reviewers were reminiscing more on the quality of McMurtry's 'Lonesome Dove' than on the quality of the writing in this particular novel.

The book began well enough, and the main character of Nellie started off full of mouth and grit. However, there was no character development, the woman's mouth and spunk became annoying over time and the character remained shallow.
Apr 24, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it
One thing I will say for this book: it does a pretty good job of mirroring, in novel form, Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West shows. There's a little bit of everything, none of it quite fully polished. Among the cast of characters are Buffalo Bill, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, General George Custer, all of whom are involved, at some point or another, in the requisite gun fights. And Nellie Courtright's narration of all of these characters, and events like the shootout at O.K. Corral, lend a ...more
Iowa City Public Library
After their father “hung himself to death” Marie Antoinette "Nellie" Courtright and her brother, Jackson are left orphaned in Rita Blanca, a small dusty town located in what will eventually become the Oklahoma panhandle, but for now is simply known as No-Man’s-Land. Nellie describes herself as "twenty-two, kissable, and of an independent disposition", attributes that when mixed with luck and opportunity put her next to, or in bed with just about every legendary figure of the Old West. Buffalo Bi ...more
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jan 13, 2015 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
8 audio discs

Famous gunslingers of the era, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, Gen. George Custer, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, and the Earp brothers pepper the novel.

Marie Antoinette Courtright (Nellie) is narrator and is no conventional heroine.

Our story begins in Rita Blanca.
Nellie is the telegrapher.....soon immortalized as the telegraph lady
She goes on to be author and the organizational force of Bill Cody's Wild West Show, among other things

Nellie is a rogue in many ways, but ce
Jon Box
Sep 19, 2016 Jon Box rated it really liked it
I listened to the unabridged audio version. A modern-day western written in the dime-novel style. I thoroughly enjoyed Annie Potts (as heroine Marie Antoinette "Nellie" Cartwright) channeling Larry McMurtry from Rita Blanca to Dodge City to North Platte to Tombstone to Santa Monica (early Hollywood). Nellie just happens to know and/or meet up with all the large figures in Western U.S. fact and fiction: Gen George Armstrong Custer, "Wild" Bill Hickok, the "notorious" Yazee Gang, the somewhat frum ...more
Irving Karchmar
Jun 19, 2013 Irving Karchmar rated it it was amazing
McMurty is an American treasure, and Telegraph days is a wonderful tale of Nellie Courtright, a heroine with brains, guts and beauty, who, though orphaned along with her brother at young age, make their way to the nearby town of Rita Blanca, where Jackson manages to secure a job as a sheriff's deputy, while Nellie becomes the town's telegrapher.

In true Zelig fashion, Nellie meets most of the legendary characters of her time; Buffalo Bill, the man she will love most in her long life, Billy the Ki
Feb 06, 2009 Trisha rated it liked it
A fun book to read! Not only because of the old-west ambiance that McMurty evokes so well,but also because of his talent for coming up with characters that are so quirky and this case the copulation-loving Nellie Courtright, who can't seem to last very long without a man to turn into her current fiancee. In addition to the purely fictional characters that gallop across these pages, McMurty also has invented a whole series of new adventures for the Earp brothers (Wyatt doesn't come a ...more
Apr 24, 2008 Grace rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-talk, western
Spunky Nellie Courtright narrates this tall tale from author Larry McMurtry. The Pulitzer Prize winning author (for Lonesome Dove) here presents an outlandish tale of one young woman who goes from telegraph operator in the small town of Rita Blanca (in what was to become the Oklahoma panhandle) , to business manager for Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show, to California journalist. Along the way she encounters (and very often kisses) many of the major celebrities of the American West – Geor ...more
Lynn Pribus
May 21, 2014 Lynn Pribus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
While I think McMurtry is an amazing writer, some of his books and characters just don't engage me. The Berrybender series was like that. And so is this. I checked it out because a sequel has just come out, but I only lasted a little way into the second CD.

The reader was perfect for the part with a twang and attitude, but the plot and characters -- yeh.

McMurtry has ranged from TERMS OF ENDEARMENT to LONESOME DOVE. Probably time to reread L.D., although it makes any other book pretty lame for th
Oct 14, 2008 Joe rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Someone with a lot of spare time to read.
Larry McMurtry is an excellent story-teller. This book is no exception and was very easy to read, entertaining, and at times it was hard to put down. However, there seems to be a trend in each his books that I read of characters who I really don't care about. They don't remind me of anyone that I'd want to be around and they are not particularly exceptional in any kind of a positive way. Also, he seems to have a habit of interjecting strange things into his books that are not necessary and do no ...more
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

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
More about Larry McMurtry...

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