Monday, February 28, 2011

Entry 34: "The Stories of John Cheever" (1979)

The Stories of John Cheever—I've been working on finishing this book for the past five or so months, trudging my way through the 60 plus stories that comprise it. And I've got to be honest, here: I couldn't stand it. I almost hated it. Story after story left me beyond frustrated with Cheever.

But, last night, after months of struggling to maintain interest, struggling to make time to squeeze a story or even two into my days, struggling to figure out why I should care about any of these stories, I finally finished it.

Then, today at work, while I served gourmet coffee to incredibly rich, incredibly obnoxious, incredibly white people—the self-righteous, over-privileged upper crust of middle class Suburbia—for twelve hours, I suddenly got it: these are the people Cheever was railing against.

And that's about the time I gained a sense of respect for John Cheever.

Let's get something straight—I was not born into privilege. I didn't come into this world with a silver spoon in my mouth. Nobody in my family is wealthy; in fact, we're all fairly poor. As if that wasn't hard enough to believe, I'm not middle-aged, I'm not upper-middle-class, and, for the most part, my life isn't falling to pieces. Here are some other things that set me apart from the characters in John Cheever's stories—I've never murdered my brother; I've never hired a personal assistant, had sex with her, then immediately fired her; I've never accidentally killed my husband; I've never cheated on my wife; I've never cheated on my wife who was cheating on me at the same time; and I've never gotten drunk and gone swimming in every swimming pool at every party I've gone to, only to return home to find that my entire family had abandoned me.

So, needless to say, I didn't really connect with anything he had to say while I was reading through his stories. I didn't identify with them.

Another reason I couldn't identify with these stories was because of how depressing they all were. How insanely, incredibly, indescribably depressing they all were. Cheever, in every single story, does not convey any glimmer of hope, any note of positivity—instead, Cheever paints a portrait of "family values" coming apart at the seams. And, in the process, he paints a portrait of the American family as it really is—bewildered, dysfunctional, and, when it comes right down to it, corrupt.

There are a couple of things that need to be understood first to understand why The Stories of John Cheever was such a great success (it won the Pulitzer, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the same year, the only book in history to do so): first of all, John Cheever was a very active closet homosexual who was battling alcoholism and depression. He felt trapped by a world he didn't feel a part of:
I think of the enormous contribution Verdi made to the life of the planet and the enormous cooperation he was given by orchestras and singers... And I think of what an enormous opportunity is to be a live on this planet. having myself been cold and hungry and terribly alone I think I still feel the excitement of that opportunity. The sense of being with some sleeping person—one's child or one's lover—and seeming to taste the privilege of living, of being alive. Since I know so much about incarceration and addiction why can't I write about it? All I seem to be able to do is howl; let out... I am both a prisoner and an addict. - from The Journals of John Cheever
His stories, it is plain to tell, are merely an extension of his personal life. The reason his writing is so irrevocably depressing is because it's so real—these weren't purely fictional stories, they were pages from his real life.

The second important thing that needs to be understood to understand the reason The Stories of John Cheever was so influential is the time during which these stories were written: from the 1950's to the 1970's. Nowadays, we look back on the 1950's as the time of pink sweaters and poodle skirts, Leave It to Beaver and Andy Griffith, and mothers railing against Elvis Presley and his gyrating hips. This post-war society brought family values to the forefront, but as we now know, this was mostly a facade to hide the fear and paranoia brought on by the Cold War. The American glory days that were the 1950's were nothing more than an elaborate show that masked society.

Cheever, on the other hand, was unmasking that society and exposing it for what it really was. Besides J.D. Salinger, nobody else was doing this at the time. Furthermore, Cheever was in a class all his own, because even though Salinger had written The Catcher In the Rye, he didn't achieve nearly the success with it that Cheever was having with his short stories that were being published on a very regular basis in The New Yorker. Not only was Cheever running an exposé of real life American culture—which must have been a complete shock to his readership (come on—you can't tell me that a generation of parents who were freaking out over Elvis Presley's hips on The Ed Sullivan Show weren't being completely shell-shocked by stories of  murder, rape, alcoholism, and infidelity)—but he was even having success doing it!

This, of course, is a testament to John Cheever's unique ability as a writer—he slapped you in the face, but he did so in a way that made you respect him as an artist.

Now, as much as I have to say about this collection of short stories, I really don't feel like anything I could say could really equate with this review by Jason Pettus that I found on the website for the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Pettus also tweeted his progress through The Stories at with mini-reviews that I found enlightening.

So, instead, to close out, I'm going to simply list the stories that I enjoyed the most:
  • "Goodbye, My Brother"
  • "The Enormous Radio"
  • "Clancy In the Tower of Babel"
  • "Another Story"
  • "The Death of Justina"
  • "Artemis, the Honest Well Digger"

One final word on this collection—be sure to spread the stories apart while reading them. As I've made clear, they are incredibly depressing, but Cheever's writing is also very dense. It is really easy to feel overwhelmed by both of these factors and give up on the collection all together. But don't let the girth of this book deter you—you may resent the journey of reading every story, but you'll be thankful for the accomplishment of having reached your destination.

Pie Chart Progress

We have come to the end of February and, with my five finished books this month, I decided to take a look at my overall progress via a pie chart. Here's what I've done and what I still have left to do.

Almost to the halfway point!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Entry 33: "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham (1999)

I had today off of work, and not much to do to fill all 24 hours it offered me. I woke up at 8:30, finished up Ernest Poole's His Family until almost noon, ate some lunch, fixed my futon, watched some television, wrote a blog, played a game, caught up with some friends and family, took two showers, listened to a lot of music, and, in the midst of all this activity, I decided that I wanted to read a whole book in one day. So, once again, I consulted the literary oracle that is Joshua Riley and requested a suggestion.

At his behest, I took Michael Cunningham's 1999 Pulitzer-winning novel, The Hours, off the shelf. He had just finished it, had really enjoyed it, and told me that, at a scant 226 pages, I could very well finish it in one day.

And, you know something? I did finish it one day. In fact, I finished it in a couple of hours. And, after I finished it, I actually wanted to read it again.

It was simply a marvelous novel.

Let me first say this—Michael Cunningham is a great writer. Now, let me say this—Michael Cunningham knows that Michael Cunningham is a great writer. Despite the fact that The Hours is a fantastically written novel, it is, overall, an overwritten novel; and, unfortunately, this does more to distract the reader than engage the reader.

The novel follows three separate stories—the lives of Clarissa, Laura, and Virginia; Virginia Woolf, that is. And these three separate stories all merge in communality between the three women at the end of the novel. Scattered throughout are themes and nuances and symbolism that hint at the outcome of the novel. And, I have to be honest here, I found this literary approach incredibly trite and entirely too predictable. In fact, at one point very early in the novel, I even sent Joshua a text message that said, "So are Laura's 'Richie' and Clarissa's 'Richard' the same person?"

They were.

However, there were so many little subtleties in this novel that Cunningham must have poured so much effort into so painstakingly crafting. There are themes and symbolism that are almost completely obscure to even the most well-trained literary eye. Cunningham, I'm sure, really wanted The Hours to be a completely perfect novel. And, even though it isn't a completely perfect novel, it's a good novel.

A damn good novel.

I was a really big fan of the drama Cunningham so effortlessly creates in each storyline. In fact, the conflicts of the novel are so subtly written, that I hardly even noticed them—even as they were occurring. Even though there was very little "going on," very little "action," there's a certain amount of tension around these frivolous goings on that compelled me to continue reading, just to figure out what was going to happen next.

But I was more impressed with the background story that he wrote for Virginia Woolf's novel, Mrs. Dalloway. Even if the story was entirely contrived, it offered a really great glimpse of Michael Cunningham's feminist critique of the book. I was actually more interested in the biographical aspect than I was in the rest of the story. In fact, even though I really don't like Virginia Woolf as an author, I was so intrigued by Cunningham's background that I'd really like to investigate her life a bit more.

Entry 32: "His Family" by Ernest Poole (1918)

Joshua made a random decision to read the very first novel to win a Pulitzer Prize—Ernest Poole's His Family (1918)—and he was so impressed by it, and was speaking so highly of it that I decided that I'd read it too. My original intention was to save this one until the end of the Pulitzer Project and read it alongside whatever the most winner would be—until 2011 came, the most recent winner would have been Paul Harding's Tinkers. However, I don't think I'm going to be able to read the next 46 Pulitzer novels by the time the next winner is announced in April.

But since Joshua was praising it so, how could I in good conscience pass it up? Particularly in light of one of the novels I had just finished (McMurtry's Lonesome Dove) and a collection of short stories that I am still tiredly plowing my way through (The Stories of John Cheever). I had just gotten done reading Jhumpa Lahiri's fabulous Interpreter of Maladies and, after getting the taste of great writing back in my mouth, I wanted more.

I wasn't disappointed.

I have to be honest—I really wasn't as excited at the prospect of reading His Family, but much like Josephine Johnson's Now In November, I was exceptionally surprised at how much I loved it. From every description I had heard of the book, I was expecting yet another early Pulitzer-winning pseudo-Victorian work of rubbish. Of all the early winners I've read so far (like The Magnificent Ambersons, The Age of Innocence (even while The Age of Innocence's conclusion was wonderful, the rest of the novel was entirely unbearable), Alice Adams, and Early Autumn), I have not been impressed at all. His Family just seemed to be another novel set in Old New York and it seemed to be about an aging man's struggle to maintain his family's Victorian dignity in the face of the changing times. I was surprised, and pleased, to find that this novel had very little to do with that. Rather, the focus was an aging man's struggle to keep his family knit together.

Even more impressive than the story was Poole's writing. I'd like to compose a list of writing styles that I've been most impressed with along this journey—certainly Robert Penn Warren, Jhumpa Lahiri, Josephine Johnson, Elizabeth Strout, and Marilynne Robinson come to mind—, for Ernest Poole will quickly make his way into that list. His writing is so fluid, so poetic, so image-driven, so heartbreaking, so positive, so hopeful—much like Robert Penn Warren's. There were paragraphs that I actually had to re-read just because I was enamored with them.

What I'd really like to know about this novel, though, is why it won the Pulitzer Prize. Don't get me wrong—it absolutely deserved the Prize; it's an incredible novel. But there are so many things working against it. For one thing, it's not at all pseudo-Victorian like the rest of the early winners. In fact, it stands in stark contrast to the rest of the early winners. Secondly, Ernest Poole was a Socialist and His Family is especially pro-socialism (and, from what I've read, this is even more true of another novel of his, The Harbor). During a time when Americans feared socialism (who am I kidding—if there's one thing we've learned from Obama's presidency, Americans still aren't over that fear), a socialist-sympathizing Ernest Poole wrote a pro-socialism novel that won the Pulitzer Prize!

I'd really like to look more into Poole once this project is over. I want to learn more about this Chicago-born socialist that won America's highest literature accolade, the Pulitzer Prize (and, moreover, the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Look!

There's a new look here at The Pulitzer Blog. Much more functional, much more aesthetically pleasing.

Entry 31: "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)

After the monumental headache that was Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, I needed the taste of really great writing in my mouth again. So, after much coaxing from Joshua—who said this book would "change my life," "break my heart," and "make [me] believe in the magic of storytelling"—I went to the bookshelf and picked up Jhumpa Lahiri's 2000 Pulitzer-winner, Interpreter of Maladies.

And, after sobbing at the conclusion of the very first story in the collection, I knew then that Joshua was probably right—this was going to be the greatest collection of stories I have ever read.

It was.

For the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize in the millennium, the Pulitzer committee made an interesting decision—they awarded it to a London-born Indian Hindu woman who was raised in the United States; they awarded it to a collection of short stories that all revolve around a theme of international, relational, and romantic transplantation. I have to believe that the Pulitzer committee had a double-intention when they awarded Interpreter of Maladies the Prize. For one thing, obviously, this book deserved to win—it is an amazing, awe-inspiring, incredibly eloquent book. Lahiri, even though she was only 33 when her collection of stories was published, writes with a wisdom and an understanding of human relationship dynamics and of the world around her that a much older woman would possess. I was actually very surprised when I learned that she was so young when these stories were written. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly in the selection process, Jhumpa Lahiri and her collection of stories embody the shift the literary world made from postmodernism to post-postmodernism.

Although it is this writer's opinion that post-postmodernism wasn't truly born until the second World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001, the late 1990's started signaling shifts in thinking and the way artists were interpreting and understanding the world around them. I think that the advent of the Internet and the introduction of the idea of the entire world being webbed together started deteriorating postmodernism, and 9/11 delivered its death blow. And from the rubble of the World Trade Centers, when every person in America—every person in the world—suddenly became a New Yorker, arose the Global Village.

It is this Global Village that Lahiri so eloquently describes in each story of Interpreter of Maladies.

Whether writing about the distance between two lovers and how truly the same that man and woman are ("A Temporary Matter"); two nationalities that become the same heritage under the distress of uncertainty ("When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine"); two religions that become intertwined and intermixed ("This Blessed House"); or overcoming the walls of nationality, gender, and generation ("The Third and Final Continent"), Lahiri's stories transcend barriers by writing beyond our conceptions of those barriers.

(just as a note, now that I have some examples to work with, here's the difference between postmodern and post-postmodern: if "A Temporary Matter" had been written in the 1960's, the author would have focused more on the distance of the man and the woman—their differences, but how their differences made them both totally unique, but both totally right in their own way; instead, under post-postmodernism, the author acknowledges the distance between the man and the woman, but instead focuses on the ties that draw and bind them together, instead of the differences that force them apart)

I really love the way this collection is described on the back of the book, and I don't think anything I could ever write could sum Interpreter of Maladies up as well as this does:
...this stunning debut collection unerringly charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. "A writer of uncommon sensitivity and restraint...Ms. Lahiri expertly captures the out-of-context lives of immigrants, expatriates, and first-generation Americans" (Wall Street Journal). In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner.
I'm going to make a bold claim, here—it is with Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies that post-postmodernism was conceived. It hadn't been born yet—that would come later; but I really do believe that with this book, published in 1999, the seed had been planted. If literary critics and historians prove me right, that will make Interpreter of Maladies one of the most epochal books ever written, putting it in the company of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and James Joyce's Ulyssess.

But, of course, even if my claim doesn't ring true, and Interpreter of Maladies doesn't become the epochal novel that I'm describing it, one thing will always remain true of it—this is a fantastic collection of short stories that everybody needs to read.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Entry 30.3: February Challenge Results

Well, it seems as though I have won the second monthly reading challenge by completing Larry McMurtry's grueling Lonesome Dove much earlier than both Joshua and I expected either of us would. As mentioned in Entry 30.1, whoever won this challenge got to pick another Larry McMurtry novel for the loser to read once the Pulitzer Project is over.

For my beleaguered friend, Joshua, I have chosen McMurtry's 1983 classic, Terms of Endearment.

Here's a brief synopsis of the novel, from
In this acclaimed novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning motion picture, Larry McMurtry created two unforgettable characters who won the hearts of readers and moviegoers everywhere: Aurora Greenway and her daughter Emma. Aurora is the kind of woman who makes the whole world orbit around her, including a string of devoted suitors. Widowed and overprotective of her daughter, Aurora adapts at her own pace until life sends two enormous challenges her way: Emma's hasty marriage and subsequent battle with cancer. Terms of Endearment is the Oscar-winning story of a memorable mother and her feisty daughter and their struggle to find the courage and humor to live through life's hazards -- and to love each other as never before.
Joshua and I have both agreed to take the month of March off from reading challenges so that we both may focus on the rest of these Pulitzers, but we'll return again in April to once again race for the prize!

Entry 30.2: "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry (1986)

Almost two full weeks into the month, the February reading challenge is finally over. It took everything in me to get through this book (and once he finishes, Joshua will tell you the same), but I finished Larry McMurtry's 1986 Pulitzer-winning novel, Lonesome Dove, at 11pm on Friday, February 11.

My edition of this novel was a long, grueling 821 pages that sprawled the distance from Southern Texas to Northern Montana and back again. And when I finished reading the last word, closed the book, and dropped it to the floor next to the couch I was laying on, I truly felt like I was the one who had made the treacherous journey there and back.

This book did nothing but exhaust me. All the way through, from beginning to end, I felt like a marathon runner that was perpetually hitting the proverbial wall—paragraph after paragraph, page after page. McMurtry annoyed me, angered me, infuriated me even. I cannot tell you how many times I called Joshua after finishing a chapter or two just to say, "Joshua. This is the dumbest book I have ever read." And, every single time, all he could do was agree.

I've got to be honest—I have no idea where to start with my criticisms of this novel. So, maybe I should start off this review with the things I enjoyed about the book.

So, let's see. Um.... Well. Ummmm.... This is even harder than figuring out where to start my criticisms.

Oh! I've got it.

The book didn't bore me to tears. Despite its heft, despite its length, despite the overwhelming "lull to action" ratio, and even despite McMurtry's absolutely horrendous writing, Lonesome Dove, at the very least, kept my interest. There were several points during it where I would've much rather been reading something else, but at least I wasn't bored to the point of putting the book away and accepting defeat.

Another thing I'll give Lonesome Dove is that it was a good story with really well-developed characters. In fact, the characters might have been a little too well-developed.

(Segues into criticisms)

McMurtry spent way too much time and invested way too many words into developing the story instead of telling the story. This novel was 821 pages, but could have easily been truncated into half that and the story wouldn't have suffered a great loss. In fact, the story probably would have been much more engaging that way. The story of this novel was basically this: a bunch of cowboys (led by Gus and Captain Call) decided to head from Lonesome Dove, Texas up to Montana to start up a cattle ranch, then headed there and encountered a bunch of trials and tribulations along the way, then Gus dies and wishes to be buried back in Lonesome Dove, so Call takes his dead body all the way back to honor his wishes.

In a nutshell, that's the story. Granted, there were a lot of sidebars to the story—a lot of love interests, and relationships gone awry. Be that as it may, it took me all of one sentence to recap the gist of the story.

In McMurtry's rendering, however, it takes 821 pages. In fact, it took McMurtry a whopping TWENTY SEVEN CHAPTERS to narrate the time it takes for the cowboys to decide to move to Montana to the time that they actually leave Lonesome Dove. TWENTY SEVEN CHAPTERS dedicated to nearly pointless dialogue, lengthy expository, character development, and back story. Now, I realize it takes time to fully develop a cast as numerous as this ensemble, but 27 chapters? Seriously? It was like reading Ayn Rand's classic example of all character development and no story, Atlas Shrugged, all over again. "All sizzle and no steak," as they say.

To make matters worse, some of the most important, action-packed scenes in the novel—like violent encounters with murderous Indians, barroom brawls, gunfights in the streets, and other disputes—are merely glossed over by McMurtry. There were times when I read a scene and had to go back and re-read it because I thought I had missed something; after 20 pages or so of describing how the landscape looked, or how the characters were feeling, McMurtry would detail a really tense run-in with Indians in a couple paragraphs, then go right back to focusing on the landscape for another ten pages. In the midst of a couple dozen pages, one of the main characters would wind up dead and I was so horribly fatigued by McMurtry's over-narration that I wouldn't even realize what had happened!

And maybe I'd feel differently about McMurtry's narrative if it were actually written well. Unfortunately (at least this is the case with this particular novel), McMurtry is absolute shite at writing prose. There were so many occasions where he was clearly attempting to be clever and poetic whilst describing the landscape or the look on a character's face, but every single time he fell flat on his face.

Don't even get me started on the dew...

Then, if that weren't bad enough, his voice would change throughout the novel! So the reader would be stuck with half-baked poetic prose, then a gem of a sentence like this one: "Roscoe was half asleep in his saddle when a bad thing happened." His prose didn't improve any with this little ditty: "She was sad."

Again, this is the only thing by McMurtry I've ever read (and the only thing by him I intend to ever read), so I can't let Lonesome Dove define my opinion of his overall writing abilities, but I can sure as hell tell you that this novel was one of the worst written books I've ever read.

It's almost as if McMurtry were participating in NaNoWriMo and, in a race against the calendar, was just writing for the sake of writing.

Another note on time-management—it is nearly impossible to figure out McMurtry's estimation of how much time it takes to do certain tasks (like a 27 chapter decision to move to Montana, or an 80-chapter trek across the country, or a 2-chapter trek back across the country). There were countless occasions where I had been reading and reading and reading for hours and the wagon train was still in the same damn place they were when I first started reading and I would literally cry out, "Seriously!? How long is this going to take??" Then, before I knew it, the wagon train was 500 more miles into their journey! Both McMurtry's time lapse and geographical locations made absolutely no sense.

Speaking of things not making sense, there was McMurtry's insistence on character overlapping. Somehow, every character in this book by the end of the novel knew each other, regardless of where they were from. This feature of the book is a bit hard to explain without giving away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say that the film Magnolia has absolutely nothing on this novel's "character interconnectedness."

Here's a magnificent example: Blue Duck, the villain, kidnaps Lorie, the "damsel in distress." Gus sets out to rescue her and in the middle of the wide-open Midwestern plains, he runs into July Johnson, a sheriff from Arkansas. Now, Johnson left Arkansas to track down Jake Spoon, a cowboy guilty of killing Johnson's brother in law, but he gave up on that chase when he learned that his wife had run away from home right after he left, so he decided to head to Nebraska to track her down instead. So, on his way to Nebraska, he suddenly, and for no reason, pops up in the middle of the Plains and runs into Gus and they fight Blue Duck's posse together. Now, here's the impossible part: if McMurtry was telling the story with any sort of consistency, Johnson had somehow backtracked some almost 500 miles to have this chance run-in with Gus in the middle of nowhere! Then, just as inexplicably as their chance encounter was, they parted ways only to have another couple run-ins with each other over the course of the next 60 chapters.

McMurtry does the impossible in this book and just strings the reader along, assuring us, "Trust me on this one. Just follow me and trust me." But, by that point (which is a little less than halfway through the novel, mind you), you are so completely disenfranchised with the story that you don't even care anymore. The only reason you're still reading is because you've already read 400 pages and you can't bring yourself to completely give up on that sort of time investment.

Obviously, I don't recommend this book to anyone. Unless you have a death wish. Then, by all means—go for it. But I cannot in good conscience ever recommend this book.

I have absolutely no idea how this novel managed to win a Pulitzer Prize. Seriously, my only guess is that politics were heavily involved. As Joshua and I are coming to find, the Pulitzer Prize is one of the most biased and political prizes in the arts and always has been (something that we will document when this project is finished) and I'm guessing that McMurtry was the benefactor of this. 

The only other possibility that I can come up with is that it was merely awarded the Pulitzer Prize because it was the last Western novel that they were going to award the Prize to. Now, there may actually be something to this theory... Before its big win, a handful of Western novels won the Prize; since its win, none have. Furthermore, it was the last genre book to win the Pulitzer Prize—before it, most of the winners were either period pieces, war novels, Westerns, pioneer novels, political novels, or even romance; since its win, all of the winners have been genuine literary fiction. It is this reader's opinion that perhaps the Pulitzer committee figured that there would never be a Western novel as epic as Lonesome Dove, so they decided to award it the Prize as a last huzzah for Western novels. I only have two pieces of evidence for this suspicion: the first, of course, is that no Western has won since; the second is that none of Cormac McCarthy's incredible Border Trilogy (which consists of The Crossing, All the Pretty Horses, and No Country for Old Men) won the Prize.

Then again, there may be nothing to these claims at all.

It's funny—after reading it, I didn't think anything else in this Pulitzer Project would even compare in awfulness to Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons. But, now, I'm not so sure. It and Lonesome Dove are definitely duking it out for that top (or, bottom) spot. The Magnificent Ambersons does have one thing going for it—it's a respectable amount of pages for a crappy book. At least Tarkington doesn't force you to endure an awfully written novel for 821 pages. Lonesome Dove, on the other hand, is the length of five novels put together! For no apparent reason, to boot!

I have to admit that I almost feel bad tearing down Lonesome Dove as much as I have been, because I legitimately enjoyed the story. You know—once I managed to wade knee-deep through all of McMurtry's severely overwritten bullshit prose. If you can figure out a method to overlook that, Lonesome Dove will at least provide you a good story with a lot of human drama.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Entry 30.1: February Challenge Book: "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry (1986)

February is now upon us, and that can only mean one thing—the latest incarnation of Joshua and Drew's Pulitzer reading challenge has been decided upon.

This month, we will be tackling one of the books that we have been dreading since we set out on this journey: Larry McMurtry's 1986 winner, Lonesome Dove. This novel stands at a formidable 821 pages and chronicles the Old West "as it really was" (at least that's the way its described on my edition's book flap).

So, 1) we've been quaking in our boots at the mere length of the novel, and 2) we've been apprehensive about reading Western novels this entire time, and 3) Larry McMurtry is so full of himself that we both think it's safe to assume this novel is probably incredibly over-written.

But I digress.

Here's the wager: the first one to finish this novel over the span of February gets to choose another McMurtry novel for the loser to read after the Pulitzer Project is over. I believe Joshua has chosen Dead Man Walking, and I think I might choose Terms of Endearment.

Let the challenge commence!