The Desert Rose (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Departing from the Texas setting and characters familiar to readers of his first half-dozen novels, Larry McMurtry has in recent years expanded the scope of his observation to include such other quintessentially American locations as Hollywood (Somebody’s Darling, 1978) and Washington, D.C. (Cadillac Jack, 1982). In The Desert Rose, McMurtry turns his attentions to Las Vegas, with results that at first glance leave a great deal to be desired.
Throughout his career as a novelist, McMurtry has experienced considerable difficulty with the handling of narrative voice, operating most successfully (as in the recent Cadillac Jack) through the recorded perceptions of a first-person, limited-viewpoint narrator. Elsewhere, as in his otherwise exemplary The Last Picture Show (1966), McMurtry tends to strain the reader’s credulity by speaking for too many of his characters at once. In The Desert Rose, while cannily avoiding the trap of multiple viewpoints, McMurtry nevertheless disconcerts his reader by limiting his third-person narration to the viewpoint and vocabulary of the novel’s principal character, a Las Vegas show girl in her late thirties whose formal education ended in high school.
However laudable in its intentions, in its efforts toward realism, McMurtry’s narrative technique tends...
(The entire section is 1883 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Library Journal. CVIII, September 1, 1983, p. 1721.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. September 4, 1983, p. 7.
National Review. XXXV, November 25, 1983, p. 1495.
New Leader. LXVI, November 14, 1983, p. 18.
The New Yorker. LIX, October 24, 1983, p. 162.
Saturday Review. IX, September, 1983, p. 46.
(The entire section is 33 words.)