Though I try to stay on top all things McMurtry, I discovered just today that my all-time favorite novelist – Larry McMurtry – will close his last Booked Up bookstore (in Archer City, Texas) at this year’s end. According to a March 8 article in the Albuquerque Journal, McMurtry first announced the closing Feb. 1 by posting a letter on his store windows. He says he wants to travel and work on other books, and, of course, there’s nothing I’d love more than to have him write more books.
Still, in all honesty, I am devastated. You know how we all have our list of “things to do” — eventually? Visiting Booked Up in Archer City has been on my list for quite some time, and I’ve suddenly realized I’ve got to move it up — and fast. No more putting off getting new tires for the Durango. You see, like McMurtry, I like to drive, and it won’t be the first time I took a long trip that had McMurtry waiting at the other end.
On Sept. 29, 1994, my daughter and I made a 7-hour trip from my Iowa hometown to Minnetonka, Minnesota. Larry and his longtime companion, Diana Ossana, were signing copies there of the just-released “Pretty Boy Floyd,” which they had co-written. In addition to dragging my daughter along, I hauled two large book bags full of all my McMurtry books (no duplicate copies) that I hoped he’d sign. (Which he graciously did.)
I’ll never forget sitting in the front row, directly facing my favorite Pulitzer prize-winning author, and asking him questions about his very first book signing and his rancher uncles. He had a much softer voice than I anticipated, and an easy smile as he recalled that first signing and an uncle’s unexpected appearance.
I still have the photos I took at the signing, including one of me with Larry that hangs on my wall above my writing desk. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many authors, some of whom have become good friends. Yet nothing has quite ever compared to the day I met Larry McMurtry. Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call remain my two favorite characters from fiction, though Emma Horton and Aurora Greenway run a close second.
If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading a McMurtry novel, it’s time to get started. Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, Somebody’s Darling, and All My Friends are Going to Be Strangers are just to name a few. Then, book on up or down to Archer City’s Booked Up before it’s too late. I hope to see you there.