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The Last Picture Show

(The Last Picture Show #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  14,534 ratings  ·  834 reviews
This is one of McMurtry's most memorable novels - the basis for the film of the same name. Set in a small, dusty Texas town, it introduces Jacy, Duane and Sonny, teenagers stumbling towards adulthood, discovering the beguiling mysteries of sex and the even more baffling mysteries of love. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 280 pages
Published 2000 by Orion Books (first published 1966)
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Dana She ultimately had a tumor removed from her breast, leaving a scar, so I guess she went to the doctor for breast soreness/complications.

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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,534 ratings  ·  834 reviews

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Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An American idyll infused with sex and 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, Larry McMurtry should've won the Pulitzer Prize for this one, perhaps more so ...more
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
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well, this ain't no Lonesome Dove. Yes, it's penned by the same author, and it's set in Texas, but that's basically where the similarities begin and end. The grand, expansive romanticism in LD is nowhere to be found here. Neither is the hope for a better life, or struggle against punishing weather systems. The only element that the characters here are fighting against is loneliness.

It's so bleak, it's so dead, the life in this small Texan town. It's so empty. It's so limited. Monotonous. Rinse a
Michael Finocchiaro
After Lonesome Dove, I wanted to see what McMurtry's writing was like when he wasn't invoking the Great West. The novel dedicated to the small Texas town where he grew up,The Last Picture Show, is a rather bleak look at life in the 50s. Sonny is in high school with his best friend Duane and still a virgin. In fact, the entire book is about the discovery of sex of most of the primary characters. I was a bit taken back by the casual mention of sex with farm animals that was engaged by both Sonny a ...more
Dan Schwent
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-deserved-it
Best read of the year so far. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call a real page turner. I couldn’t turn them quickly enough and although this was a very down to earth story (always my favourite kind) I was literally over the moon with it. Bleak and dark (oh, so bleak!!!) with a sprinkling of brilliant and intelligent humour, this was a totally unforgettable story full of equally unforgettable characters.

As much as I loved Lonesome Dove and was truly impressed with McMurtry’s powerful story
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
”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
Connie G
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Unlike some period pieces set in the 50's or 60's, this book comes across as totally honest and authentic. THE LAST PICTURE SHOW is full of real characters living out the highs and lows in a small Texas town. I loved this book, and the film version was well done too. ...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Most novels want to grow up to be this novel.
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Robert Sheard
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lived in West Texas for a decade in my teens and twenties, this book is pure nostalgia for me. It’s also so achingly painful that it leaves me feeling empty and lonely at the end.
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
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
Dec 06, 2018 marked it as to-read
Julie says this should be my next McMurtry and who am I to argue?
Sara Batkie
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
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
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
We are all alone. And many of us very lonely for that reason. Nothing makes it stop other than to find someone to be alone with for a while, maybe for as long as one can. That's what this book is about. Recommended.

Constantinos Capetanakis
I hoped I would like this book, but having read nothing by Mr. McMurtry and knowing that the 1971 film, which I vaguely remember, was a big hit I treaded (very) lightly.

There was no reason; the book is wonderful. I am not sure if this is really a "coming of age" story and I am not even sure what that phrase really signifies. This is the story of young people, in early 50s Texas' small-town Thalia, who know nothing, without pretending to, following their instincts, chasing sex like there is no t
Bob Mayer
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of McMurtry, particularly Lonesome Dove. This book is part of a more modern series and the basis for the classic film. Who can forget Sam the Lion?

McMurtry has a keen eye for capturing the essence of small town America, particularly Texas. Much like the desolate movie filmed in black and white, this novel captures the feeling.

In his later books we can track many of these same characters and grow older with them.

Definitely a worthwhile read and must-see movie.
BAM Endlessly Booked
I totally get why this was produced as s movie, but I'm so not interested in seeing it. The author did well with characterization; I could visualize action. It just didn't notice me. ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review
McMurtry has an incredible talent of turning a (let's say) genre story into a touching, moving and intelligent character study. First (for me) was a Western and now a coming of age story. It quickly becomes a tale of loneliness, friendship, love and appearances in a small town but not only. Wonderful storytelling. ...more
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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

Other books in the series

The Last Picture Show (5 books)
  • Texasville
  • Duane's Depressed
  • When the Light Goes
  • Rhino Ranch

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