Picks and Pans Review: Texasville

updated 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/04/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Larry McMurtry

The author, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize last year for his novel Lonesome Dove, is back in his jittery Hollywood mode, and the result is so bad that Texasville is guaranteed to rankle even the most insensitive temperament. This book's locale is in McMurtry's fictional town of Thalia, the setting for his Last Picture Show. Some of the characters, now decades older, are from that 1966 book. Oilman Duane Moore and his prickly wife, Karla, are at the center, surrounded by $12 million in debts—the price of crude has dropped—Children, grandchildren, dogs, roughnecks and old friends from high school. These include the beautiful, mysterious Jacy, played in the film version of the earlier novel by Cybill Shepherd, to whom Texasville is dedicated. (Shepherd and McMurtry are a former item.) She is back home after a slight career as a movie actress in Italy. Everybody, even the children, talks in four-letter words. Cars and trucks crash; guns are everyplace. Sex is the main subject of conversation, and the couplings are casual. The town, teetering on bankruptcy, is determined to celebrate the 100th year of Texasville, an early nearby settlement. The climax is a fight downtown with thousands of eggs. Almost every scene is played for laughs. The characters and their dialogue have no connection to real life; they joke around like the folks in The Beverly Hillbillies. The only likable character is a blue dog named Shorty. But then McMurtry always has been better writing about animals than about people. (The principals from the movie of The Last Picture Show: Shepherd, Jeff Bridges and director Peter Bogdanovich, have already signed to do a film of this novel.) (Simon and Schuster, $18.95)

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