Wednesday, April 21, 2010

“Down Here In Texas”

It has been over twenty years since I first met these fellows. Do you ever get tired of hearing someone from another country or state proclaim, “Well, the way we do it back in,,,Ya Ya Ya”. Well, I don’t know any other way to put it. Down here in Texas, which comes from the Indian word Tejas, meaning “friendly people”, if ya like somebody, it usually lasts. It don’t mean you have to like ‘em right off. Ya kinda have to sit back and see if they are going to be all “hat” and no “cattle”. Don’t usually take too long. What a person don’t say, but what they do, will wind up telling the tale.

What? Hell, no. They ain;t real people. They are made up. Larry McMurtry made ‘em up. Yep, but you know what? They are as fresh gritty in my mind as the dust they stirred up going from Texas to Montana. Cap’em Gus McCrae and Cap’em Woodrow Call. I ain’t trying to “hawk” this book. The Pulitizer Prize has already done that. If ya haven’t already and don’t want to read it, knock ya’ self out. I won’t suffer from that. I already read it and watched the movie several times. One of those times was a long weekend and my youngest daughter was home from school. At my insistence, she watched it with us. It was her first time to see it. She had not read the book at that time. Not going to tell you how it ends but she looked at me with tears in her eyes and paid me a compliment.

“Daddy, you are a combination of Gus and Call rolled up in one.”

At first, I took it as a compliment, but “The Boss let out a grunt and a groan, with a roll of her eyes, which threw me into a state of wondering. I wondered if it was Gus’s charming ways or Call’s steel rod stubbornness she might have been thinking about. That still ain’t the point. The point is some writers can paint such a clear picture of who the characters are. Gus and Call and all the other members of the The Hat Creek Cattle Company came to life on the pages. You could “hear” what they were thinking.

“The Last Picture Show” was the first in a series of four, (I think there were only four, well Rino Ranch might make five), but the characters lived their whole lives throughout these books. I am not sure how McMurtry does it. I read his books. I re-read with just the intent of sneaking a peek at how he does it. I still can’t see a definite formula for his method, but something works.

If I could paint just a fraction of the degree of character believability that McMurtry does, then ,, nope I would try to do a little better, but at least I would have the satisfaction that I was progressing. I see these characters in some of your writing out there. I take enjoyment in those characters and I hope you don’t mind if I look at them and say. “What are those characters thinking?”