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Friday, 11 March 2016

WRITERS ON WRITING #78: Larry McMurtry


...I had rather write straight fictions than pseudo-fictions (the term is not meant to be pejorative), and my preference for the straight fiction is principally a matter of voice.  However well-pitched, clever, or sincere, my voice in the essay counts for much less than the voice of the novel.  It is not a question of monotony, but of range and resonance and fullness, and on all three counts the novel outspeaks.
  To put it in imagery more appropriate to my immediate subject; nonfiction is a pleasant way to walk, but the novel puts one horseback, and what cowboy, symbolic or real, would walk when he could ride?  In the novel, as in riding, there is a sense that one's own speed is increased, one's movement supported and enlarged by the speed and movement of another life; and for me the motion of the novel is far more satisfying that the fidgetings of the brain that produce nonfiction.  This sense of another life is not quite so romantic or anti-intellectual as it might seem, for the novel still depends upon the creation of character, an element in fiction about as unfashionable as narrative and fully as important.  I do not say that narrative and character should be stressed at the expense of structure and symbol, but merely that the former are much more important than the poetics of fiction has made them seem.

In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas (1968)


LARRY McMURTRY is the author of more than 60 works of fiction, non-fiction and history, including The Last Picture Show (1966), Terms of Endearment (1975), Lonesome Dove (1985, which went on to win the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen (1999) and Custer (2012).  Click HERE to read an interview by MICHAEL MECHANIC in which LARRY McMURTRY discusses his 2014 novel The Last Kind Words Saloon.

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