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

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  11,355 Ratings  ·  569 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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Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An American idyll infused with sex & adolescent (as well as much adult) longing, I adored every single page of this fast-moving, microsociety-under-a-lens type story which depicts the sexual and schoolboy escapades of two friends in a small Texas town. This is the last time things will be like this, therefore the adjective "Last" in the title. It is exquisite & very fun to get through. Anecdotal power at its height, L. McMurtry should've won the Pulitzer Prize for this one, perhaps more ...more
Dan Schwent
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, lendable
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
Joe Valdez
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
The moment when The Last Picture Show became one of my favorite books occurs on page 75. Larry McMurtry describes an orange bulb glowing over the back seat of a school bus and the amorous activities of the two seniors sitting underneath it, but as he does through much of his sometimes poignant, sometimes flagrant, ultimately magnificent coming-of-age novel published in 1966, the state of being a teenager in the northern plains of Texas of the early 1950s is what McMurtry is writing about. In any ...more
”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
Thalia is a decaying, dusty Texas town in with little to offer teenagers Sonny, Duane, and Jacy. They are looking for love, experimenting with sex, drinking booze, and wanting more than the town of Thalia can give them. This coming-of-age novel, set in the 1950s, is populated with eccentric small town characters that hang out at the poolhall, the all-night cafe, and the picture show. When the theater closes, it's one more reason to want to escape this dying town. Larry McMurtry does add some hum ...more
Diane Barnes
Yes, this book was a spotlight on a small town in Texas in the mid 1950's. Yes, there were some great characters, good and bad. One year in the life of two friends, and the girl they both loved, who was rich, pretty, spoiled and worthless as a piece of fluff. There were some adults in the town who cared enough to listen and try to help.
But the overriding theme of this novel is the hopelessness and loneliness of life. Apparently the only way to escape from Thalia, Texas was to join the army or di
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We've all driven by them on the way to places more important - small towns in the middle of nowhere with its main street stores now boarded up. Maybe there's a gas station you'd rather take your chances running out of gas than stop at and a cafe with one or two customers wearing greasy, battered baseball caps. You're surprised when you see signs of life in the houses- a red geranium in a Mexican pot by the front door. How do people live here? What do they do all day? You speed away before the sm ...more
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
Carol Storm
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure about this at first; it seemed a pretty shallow account of life in small town America. But as I progressed through the book, it really started growing on me. The characters became more rounded, and the description of their lives and the small town they lived in was honest but poignant. I read this, because I had seen the film (I thought so anyway, now I'm not sure about that). So, in the end I was impressed with the book, not as much as with Lonesome Dove, but it would be hard to m ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
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
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
¿Habéis visto Paris, Texas? Pues parece que Wim Wenders se hubiese inspirado en este libro para hacer su hermosa película (que también está ubicada en Texas)
Es un libro sobre personajes donde aparentemente sólo tienen extravagancias, pero en el fondo subyace mucho más. El aburrimiento, la monotonía, el egoísmo y el vacío humano llenan a los personajes, son los encargados de sus acciones (algunas un poco rastreras) los conduce por clubs, bebidas, sexo, un cine, un café y unos billares.
Un libro
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sleepy, dusty old town filled with warm and wonderful characters. Frustrations of small town living are in every day and still the people move forward.
Of the three main characters, Duane, Jacy & Sonny, I like Sonny the best. But the lives of all of these characters is poignant and warm as they find their way through their last year of high school and into the world.
I look forward to continuing their stories in Texasville one day soon.
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
After reading Lonesome Dove I fell in love with Larry McMurtry’s writing. I enjoyed that book immensely (guess no word can describe what i feel for LD). Although, i was sure of not reading any of the sequels or prequels of that book since i had already read the spoilers and it was not uplifting at all, yet i was keen on reading his other books so started with 'The last picture show'. But sadly i didn’t enjoy this one, i could only manage to give it two stars, nothing more.

To begin with the story
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
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
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.
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
May 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Martha Davidson
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, am-lit
Find myself very excited to have begun a journey through Larry McMurtry's five-book series set in a small Texas town named Thalia, which is thought to be a fictional representation of the author's real life hometown, Archer City, located in North Central Texas, just south of Wichita Falls and just down the road from my new hometown of Quanah. The Thalia Series begins with The Last Picture Show (1966); indeed, the series is often referred to by the title of its lead book, its lodestar.

And what an
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
I remember returning after a 40 year absence to the small town I grew up in and discovering a smaller, downtown-abandoned town. I guess I channelled this memory when I read this novel set in Thalia, Texas located somewhere in north Texas. Essentially, it is a novel about a group of adolescents growing up in the 1950s aimlessly doing nothing with the exception of the one picture show, one pool hall, or one restaurant grill.

McMurty's writing successfully created the mood of growing up in Thalia.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book probably 25 years ago, and thought it was great. This time, I found it to be very nothing special. :(
Daniel Stafford
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-serie
More about Larry McMurtry...

Other Books in the Series

The Last Picture Show (5 books)
  • Texasville
  • Duane's Depressed
  • When the Light Goes
  • Rhino Ranch
“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.”
“Do you know what it means to be heartbroken?...It means your heart isn't whole, so you can't really do anything wholeheartedly.” 5 likes
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