Lonesome Dove

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

After writing for more than twenty years about the modern West, Larry McMurtry has written in LONESOME DOVE an epic novel about its frontier heritage. Though full of action (including rustling raids, lynchings, lightning and hail storms, river crossings, a locust plague, stampedes, outlaws, and Indian fights), LONESOME DOVE is essentially a novel of character. Its main protagonists are Augustus McCrae (Gus) and Woodrow F. Call, veteran Texas Rangers, who own a cattle company in the town of Lonesome Dove. Gus is easygoing, humorous, a compulsive talker, while Call is a laconic loner and workaholic. When a third former Ranger, Jake Spoon, turns up telling of wonderful country in Montana to be had for the taking, Call determines to be the first cattleman to settle there.

Practically all of Call’s cowboys are in love with Lorena Wood, the local prostitute, who does not care for any of them. Yet Jake Spoon is irresistible to women, and when he appears, Lorena insists on accompanying him to Montana.

A number of other characters become involved with the cattle drive. July Johnson, a sheriff from Arkansas, goes after Jake, who killed his brother, but shifts his quest to pursue his runaway wife. July’s incompetent deputy follows him, only to run into a series of disasters. Jake falls in with the murderous Suggs brothers. Lorena is abducted by the Comanchero Blue Duck, a cold-blooded killer, from whom Gus rescues her. Lorena falls in love with Gus,...

(The entire section is 581 words.)