Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas” as Want to Read:
In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  363 Ratings  ·  30 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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 17th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1968)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In a Narrow Grave, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about In a Narrow Grave

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Time It Never Rained by Elmer KeltonThe Road by Cormac McCarthyMolly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly IvinsThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
Texas Authors
46th out of 464 books — 164 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryHoles by Louis SacharAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyGiant by Edna FerberIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson
Books Set in Texas
65th out of 319 books — 154 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 634)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 14, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 01, 2013 Will rated it it was amazing
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
May 26, 2008 Joy rated it really liked it
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
Rick Wiedeman
Oct 15, 2016 Rick Wiedeman rated it really liked it
In McMurtry’s 1960s essay collection, I got a peek at the Texas of my parents’ time. Most of what he said rang true for me. He got a little sideways on East Texas, but that’s natural. He’s from West Texas, and East and West Texas are as different as Southern and Northern California.

As someone born in the time he writes about, I saw the tail end of what McMurtry focuses on -- the end of cowboy culture as it transitioned to suburban culture. My ancestors on both sides of the family (German and Sc
Aaron Arnold
Nov 28, 2015 Aaron Arnold rated it really liked it
Naturally the infamously unsentimental author of the "Ever a Bridegroom" essay on the deplorable state of Texas literature would be loath to contain his opinions to that single 1981 broadside. Published in 1968, this essay collection, which is really a single meandering intellectual journey occasionally interrupted by chapter breaks, moves from film to literature to travel to family history, but its subject is always McMurtry and his thoughts on Texas, both as a real place and as a subject. And, ...more
Ryan Curell
May 24, 2014 Ryan Curell rated it it was ok
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
Jun 07, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
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
Nov 15, 2013 Geoff Sebesta rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2011 Nikki rated it liked it
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
Darren Shaw
Mar 25, 2016 Darren Shaw rated it liked it
This is the first nonfiction work of McMurtry's I have read. In it McMurtry weaves together essays on a variety of topics - watching his novel adapted for the screen, Traveling through the state, offering literary criticism of Texas' legendary writers, the cultures of major Texas cities, and McMurtry family history - to reveal a state, once wild and untamed, on its progression toward becoming urban and civilized. I enjoyed reading this different side of McMurtry.
Janelle V.
Feb 06, 2014 Janelle V. rated it really liked it
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
Jul 23, 2009 Rhea rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2015 Penny rated it really liked it
This should be required reading for Texans, who will identify with so many parts of this book.
Ann Holland
Sep 10, 2015 Ann Holland rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry's wry humor shines in these musings on what it means to be a Texan.
Sep 16, 2008 Tom rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-books-read
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
Apr 01, 2014 Slim rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 08, 2008 Cecilia rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 09, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 07, 2010 Dona rated it really liked it
"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."
Jun 03, 2009 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, texana
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.
Mike Graef
Jan 23, 2016 Mike Graef rated it really liked it
Written during Lyndon Johnson's presidency. Book really catches you about halfway through . . . one of many non-fiction titles from a very popular Texas author and novelist -- since I know virtually nothing about Texas, this was a great way to be introduced.
Nov 17, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2013-14-season
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.
May 19, 2009 David rated it really liked it
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
Sep 27, 2010 Cooper Renner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Jul 31, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it
Satisfying reading for those interested in the TX cow world --> modern world transition.
Tuggerah Library chuck out 1 of 10 books for $6 23/10/2013
Jul 07, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
Worth it all for "Eros in Archer County."
Jul 07, 2009 Clayton rated it it was amazing
a classic
Oct 05, 2013 Katie rated it liked it
Hit and miss.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 21 22 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Goodbye to a River: A Narrative
  • Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She?
  • A Life on the Road
  • Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo
  • The Shipwrecked Men
  • Alibis: Essays on Elsewhere
  • Heart Earth
  • Hole in the Sky: A Memoir
  • The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation
  • Dukla
  • Sea Room: An Island Life in the Hebrides
  • Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet
  • Escape Velocity: A Charles Portis Miscellany
  • The Atlantic Sound
  • The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, And Politics
  • Brownsville: Stories
  • The Day the Cowboys Quit
  • Great Plains
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...

Share This Book

“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.” 32 likes
More quotes…