Buffalo Girls

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

BUFFALO GIRLS is another fine novel that expresses McMurtry’s love for the American West. He has been equally successful in rendering the West as it was and the West as it has become. McMurtry is a wonderful storyteller, and the West has many wonderful stories that cry out to be told. The mythic certainly plays an important role in how the West—and the characters who inhabited it—should be viewed. In BUFFALO GIRLS, McMurtry takes the opportunity to present Calamity Jane and a curious assortment of character types who always seem to show up in McMurtry’s novels. Although he makes use of historical figures, McMurtry’s vision is large and generous rather than pedantically correct—as large as the West in all of its mythic proportions.

Mountain men, Indians, prostitutes, and legends such as Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody race across the pages of BUFFALO GIRLS. They all must come to terms with the end of an era—an era in which they could live and love with childlike abandon. The West is growing up, but not necessarily for the better. The “Wild” of the Wild West is rapidly disappearing. Each of the characters must struggle to adjust to what is happening to the land they love.

The buffalo herds have been decimated. Beaver no longer swim in great numbers in the rivers. The Indians have been rendered helpless, and the gunfighters are all either dead or neutralized. Jane and her friends attempt to hang on to their world by...

(The entire section is 451 words.)