Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Salon: Books: A Memoir

When I think of a "salon," I think of a place to socialize with interesting people, talking about a variety of subjects. Larry McMurtry's Books: A Memoir is perfect for a salon.

The Pulitzer Prize winning author is also a raconteur. Books provides him with the opportunity to ramble on about books, book scouting and collecting, and bookstores. McMurtry said his writing is a vocation, but it's the book trade that is his passion.

McMurtry drops names in his book, but many of them are obscure names of book dealers. However, the stories are fascinating to someone who loves books. Did you know the English title of Moby-Dick was The Whale? Did you know Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were the source of Gus and Call in Lonesome Dove? He mentions his writing, a little, although that isn't the purpose of the book. McMurtry says that his novel, Horseman, Pass By was sold to the movies, and quickly produced. Then he says, "The movie was called Hud, and it did well.

Books is actually about bookstores, book dealing, and the interesting people involved in the trade. McMurtry mentions Second Story Books in Georgetown, a bookstore I loved when I was in grad school. And, of course, he discusses his booktown in Archer City, Texas, and his bookstore there, as well as its earlier incarnation in Georgetown. There's talk of thousands and thousands of books, and intriguing people.

At one point, McMurtry says, "I'm aware that this kind of prattle is exactly the kind of prattle I ought to be avoiding, lest this become a narrative that is of inerest only to bookmen." Well, it is really a book for book fanatics. But, it seemed perfect for a Sunday, particularly when he discussed Evangeline Bruce's salon in Washington. He says, "I was invited a couple of times and went, recognizing that salons organized by great society ladies, gatherings at which important people from the government, business, or the arts mingled and exchanged pleasantires, would very soon be a thing of the past."

Ah, but Larry McMurtry doesn't realize there is still a Sunday Salon, and his book, Books: A Memoir, is a perfect one for the day.

Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry. Simon & Schuster, ©2008. ISBN 9781416583349 (hardcover), 259p.


Table Talk said...

This sounds like exactly the sort of book I would love. The only problem with something like this is that it makes me want to go out and visit all the stores talked about and spend the fortune I don't have inside them. Still, I think I can live with that for the pleasure it the reading would bring.

naida said...

This sounds like an interesting book. It would make me wish I could visit the book stores he mentions.
enjoy your Sunday.

Lesa said...

You're both right about wanting to visit the bookstores. However, many of them have closed in recent years, and he talks about that. But, he does give a list of bookstores he's dealt with, so it is tempting to want to visit!

Have an enjoyable Sunday participating in the salons!

Lisa said...

What an interesting book! I love his other books. I have several of them. I wasn't aware of this one, so thanks for posting about it.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Lisa. It's a surprising books. It's almost stream of consciousness form one chapter to another, and some chapters are only a page. Very interesting.

John's comments said...

sounds like my sort of book

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Lesa said...

Hope you enjoy it, John!

justareadingfool said...

I saw this book at our library and while it looked intriguing, I admit I was a little snobbish because it was written by a popular writer like McMurmtry. Now that I've seen your thoughts on it, though, it might be one into which I might have to delve. Thanks for your thoughts.

Lesa said...

You're welcome. I actually felt humble after reading it because there's so much I don't know about books and book collecting.

Literary Feline said...

This does sound like the perfect book for the Sunday Salon. I first saw mention of this book earlier in the week and the title has stuck in my mind. I think this one belongs on my wish list.

Have a great week!

Lesa said...


I think you read more literary books than I do. This does belong on your wish list!

Thanks! You have a good week, too.