Meeting Larry McMurtry

On July 7, 2013, in , by Jody Ewing

Meeting Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana

Minnetonka, Minnesota, Sept. 29, 1994

Diana_Ossana_Larry_McMurtryPhoto by Jody Ewing
Authors Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry talk about their new book, “Pretty Boy Floyd,” at the Borders bookstore in Minnetonka, Minn., on September 29, 1994.

On September 29, 1994, my daughter, Jennifer Burgess, and I made a seven-hour trek from west-central Iowa to the Borders bookstore in Minnetonka, Minn., in order to attend a book reading by authors Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. McMurtry — the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, The Last Picture Show and other monumental works — and Ossana, his writing partner, had just published their co-authored novel, Pretty Boy Floyd.

These are a few of the photos I captured that day. A million thanks also are extended to an unknown woman in attendance who used my camera to snap the photo of me with my all-time favorite writer, “Larry Mac” McMurtry. The photo remains displayed on the wall in my home office — just an upward glance away from my computer’s keyboard.

Photos by Jody Ewing

NOTE: Click any image for larger slideshow with photo descriptions.

‘Gay cowboy movie’ shatters stereotypes

On September 13, 2005, in Authors, Entertainment, by Jody Ewing

I’m thrilled to see Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Larry McMurtry still has his fingers in the screenwriting business, and doubly pleased he’s doing so with writing partner Diana Ossana. The “Pretty Boy Floyd” authors teamed up once again to script “Brokeback Mountain,” a film about two cowboys involved in a homosexual relationship and based on a story by (Shipping News) author E. Annie Proulx.

The controversial film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival Saturday — that festival’s top award — and has earned acclaim at Toronto. According to’s Paul Clinton, the ‘Gay Cowboy Movie’ shatters stereotypes. It’s slated for U.S. release December 9.

Directed by “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” Oscar winner Ang Lee, the film stars “The Brothers Grimm” heartthrob Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and revolves around two young men, Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), who are hired to tend sheep for a summer in Wyoming and find themselves attracted to each other. The story begins in the early ’60s and follows the men over the course of their lives as they continue to meet. The actors said they hope the film shows a gay relationship in a matter-of-fact, unsensational light and that it contributes to tolerance.

God knows, we could use a little tolerance right now, particularly in a day and age when we have Governators who haven’t yet overcome fear and prejudice and stand ready and willing to strike down an historic “marriage equality” bill enacted by the California Legislature.

(No word on whether that played any role in Ledger’s decision to sell his Los Feliz home and move to Brooklyn, NY).

At any rate, I applaud Ledger for his courage to go beyond the confines of sexuality toward the more difficult topic of love and tolerance.

That’s what I call a Patriot.

McMurtry’s ‘Booked Up’ Comes to Close

On March 17, 2005, in Authors, Entertainment, by Jody Ewing

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.

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