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In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  294 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Writing with characteristic grace and wit, Larry McMurtry tackles the full spectrum of his favorite themes -- from sex, literature, and cowboys to rodeos, small-town folk, and big-city slickers.
First published in 1968, In a Narrow Grave is the classic statement of what it means to come from Texas. In these essays, McMurtry opens a window into the past and present of Amer
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1968)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Time It Never Rained by Elmer KeltonMolly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly IvinsThe Road by Cormac McCarthyBurn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews
Texas Authors
63rd out of 297 books — 116 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtryTerms of Endearment by Larry McMurtryStreets of Laredo by Larry McMurtryThe Berrybender Narratives by Larry McMurtry
The Best of Larry McMurtry
12th out of 18 books — 20 voters


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Ron
McMurtry, in this collection of essays about Texas, says he prefers fiction to nonfiction, for various reasons, but I for one find these ambivalent ruminations on his home state more enjoyable than some of his fiction. The insights come fast and furious in this short book, by comparison with a slow-moving novel like "Moving On," written about this same time, where a few ideas are stretched thin across several hundred pages.

Published in 1968, the content of "Narrow Grave" will seem dated to some
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Will
Damn good book about Texas in all its (created) glory and (glorious) contradictions. Few are ever able to write objectively about this state, it is a place prone to hyperbole both by those on the outside as much as in, but McMurtry writes honestly from his mid-1960s vantage point about things and places that have not changed as much as folks would like to believe they have (his descriptions of the Dallas and Houston as boomtowns is still 100% fitting, and his portrait of Austin as a city of the ...more
Joy
In the whole, I really liked this book of McMurtry's essays. I enjoyed it in the beginning and I enjoyed it in the end. The middle, especially where he expounded on his opinion of the cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin impressed me less. I suppose I took exception to his rather arrogant dismissal of any worth found in the cities. McMurtry is a great story-teller, even when writing non-fiction about his travels and his times. This book of essays shone with his keen eye for people... the general ...more
Ryan Curell
I read this because I was told it informed McMurtry's early writing. It is largely about the cowboy's migration from the plains to the cities, the lives they formerly led compared to the ones they're forced to live now (in 1968, anyway), and how the plains are currently surveyed by "paper riders" like McMurtry himself.

At best, it's uneven - even McMurtry admits his limited capacity to write non-fiction. Such an admission is enough for me to not recommend the book to most readers - and then I'd o
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Kate
Jun 07, 2008 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Miguel, Nijole
Ronni gave me this & warned me about some of Larry's frank sexist & racist perceptions. It was written in 1968. That aside, I really dug it. I probably would have never picked it up if it hadn't been handed to me but it came at a good time. His takes on Texas cities, particularly Houston & San Antonio, provided useful and amusing knowledge of the modern history of Texas. The essay on the building of the Astrodome would be appreciated by any Houstonian. I found that he and I had come ...more
Geoff Sebesta
I bet during the 1960s there was a book exactly like this for every tenth zip code, but McMurtry survived to be well-known today so this is the only one you're gonna find.

Unlike all the other authors he describes. A lot of this book is his opinion of the previous generation of Texas authors, nearly all of whom are completely forgotten. Bedichek, Dobie, Webb: these Texas authors are remembered because of sculptors and architects, not writing. Those are the guys that they made the statues of, that
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Nikki
It's pretty uneven, but sometimes beautiful and oftentimes funny. I really enjoyed reading McMurtry's takes on the various cities of Texas--Houston gets no mercy--and of course it's fascinating to read about a culture in decline. It made me feel more connected with my home state's history, even if the cowboy past we're so proud of even today is long gone.

It also spoke to something that's been in the media a lot lately: the decline of men. This book was written 40 years ago, but the way the cowb
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Janelle V.
The final chapter, about Johnny McMurtry's last reunion at Clarendon, broke my heart.
"The family stood awkwardly around the car, looking now at Uncle Johnny, now at the shadow-flecked plains, and they were as close to a tragic recognition as they would ever be: for to them he had always been the darling, young Adonis, and most of them would never see him alive again. There were no words--they were not a wordy people. Aunt Ida returned with her purse and Uncle Johnny's last young grin blended wi
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Rhea
This is a collection of essays that McMurtry put together rather early on in his career. That said, he had already written 3 novels, so take "early" with a grain of salt. He is honest from the beginning regarding his lack of comfort in the arena of non-fiction. He is also honest at the end about the difficulty he had tying all the disparate pieces together. And that sums it up. It isn't until the last 3 essays in the book that he really starts to shine. The last in particular is worth the read, ...more
Tom
This version is a reprint of McMurtry's original book of essays on Texas. Texas has grown up a lot since 1968, and that makes McMurtry's essays seem dated, even after an updated introduction.
Only the last essay - Take My Saddle From The Wall: A Valediction - really held my interest, as I was wanting to read more about Uncle Johnny and the McMurtry brothers, now long gone, but who opened up the territory.
Less interesting is McMurtry's old bones to pick with Austin, Houston and Dallas -- he seems
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Slim
I enjoyed this a lot. I'm from Texas, not West but East Texas and from the burbs so this a Texas I can't lay claim to. I love driving around out there in West Texas though. The essays on the different cities were illuminating and funny, as I believe these cities still retain the characteristics McMurtry describes here back in the early 60's.
Cecilia
This collection of essays by Larry McMurtry examines the shift in Texas culture from cowboy/western culture to suburban culture. Written in 1968, it shows an incredible amount of foresight and vision. While I enjoyed this book, I would not recommend it to everyone. I think that Texans, those with an interest in cowboy culture or those just love a good nonfiction essay will be part of the smaller audience that would really enjoy this book.
Mary
I had to read this in college for my Texas History class. I really enjoyed it - so much that I've reread some of the essays a few times and recommended it to others. Great stories for those who enjoy history with a bit of humor. Especially liked the essay about the Astrodome! Thanks, Dr. Wilson, for making this required reading!
Dona
"We have never really captured San Antonio, we Texans—somehow the Spanish have managed to hold it. We have attacked with freeways and motels, shopping centers, and now that H-bomb of boosterism, HemisFair; but happily the victory still eludes us. San Antonio has kept an ambiance that all the rest of our cities lack."
Matthew
The essay on the Astrodome is one of the funniest things I've ever read in my life - he SLAMS Houston.

The topics here are disparate, and some of the essays are pretty boring, like the one about the move 'Hud', but McMurtry's hilarious bitterness is worth reading it from cover to cover.
Robert
A collection of observations on movies, family, mid-century Texan culture and human nature. A must read for any McMurtry fan. Or a fan of families. Or Texas. Or Human Nature.
David
Written in the 60s, these essays still ring true on all things Texan. McMurtry is a national treasure. Witty, fearless, thoroughly Texan (and more).
Cooper Renner
Really interesting reading for someone like me, a native Texan with deep roots and very conflicted feelings about the state.
Carolyn Thompson
Learning about my new home state of Texas and McMurtry's take on southwest authors Dobie, Webb and Bedichek...
Amy
Satisfying reading for those interested in the TX cow world --> modern world transition.
Velvetink
Tuggerah Library chuck out 1 of 10 books for $6 23/10/2013
Bob
Worth it all for "Eros in Archer County."
Katie
Hit and miss.
Cammy
Cammy marked it as to-read
Dec 22, 2014
Nicki
Nicki marked it as to-read
Dec 13, 2014
Holly
Holly marked it as to-read
Dec 05, 2014
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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 The Last Picture Show Streets of Laredo Comanche Moon

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“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” 30 likes
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