McMurtry has said that Danny Deck, his protagonist in his fourth novel, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, is close to him in his sensibilities. In McMurtry’s words: “It is true that the better you write the worse you live. The more of yourself you take out of real relationships and project into fantasy relationship the more the real relationships suffer.”
In his fourth novel, McMurtry turns from the ranch country around Thalia and begins what has been called the Houston or urban trilogy. Danny Deck, a young student at Rice University, is from the ranching country around Archer City, Texas, but he has cast his lot with an urban way of life beyond the imagination of Homer Bannon or Sonny Crawford. As the novel opens, Danny meets tall, beautiful, remote Sally Bynum at a party in Austin and, immediately smitten, talks her into going back to Houston with him, where they marry. Sally, like Jacy Farrow in The Last Picture Show, is self-centered; she is immune to both Danny’s love and his anger. Within a month, Sally has walked out on him several times. In the midst of his perplexity, he receives a telegram from Random House telling him that it will publish his first novel, “The Restless Grass” (which in plot is similar to Horseman, Pass By). One dream is coming true, even as another may be taken away.
Danny’s life is disjointed, because of both his sudden marriage and his publishing success. He turns to his best friends, Flap and Emma Horton. Emma’s warm, bright kitchen provides him with a sense of order and normalcy, but she cannot keep Danny from feeling that he has been dislodged from his life in Houston and from his friends. Danny and Sally go to San Francisco, where his feelings of displacement grow. Sally, now pregnant, cuts him out of her life. He leaves, moving to a sleazy hotel, where he works on his second book.
Here his crisis deepens. More authors fill San Francisco than Danny knew even existed. He realizes that they cannot all be great and...
(The entire section is 829 words.)