The Berrybender Narratives
By Larry McMurtry
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451647723, 928pp.)
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
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A sweeping four-part epic of the American West that could only come from the boundless skill and imagination of Pulitzer Prize– winning author Larry McMurtry.
Over a career that spans fifty years, Larry McMurtry has been celebrated as “one of America’s great storytellers” (The Wall Street Journal) and a writer who “stands among our best not only because of his uncanny ability to compress a cogent narrative arc but also because his eye for the moving detail is infallible” (Los Angeles Times). In The Berrybender Narratives, now published in a single volume for the first time, the author of Lonesome Dove delivers the unforgettable story of an idiosyncratic pioneer family and a truly unique view of the American West, reminding us again that his writing “has the power to clutch the heart and also to exhilarate” (The New Yorker).
In 1830, the Berrybender family—British, aristocratic, and fiercely out of place—abandons their home in England to embark on a journey through the American West just as the frontier is beginning to open up. Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender intend to travel up the Missouri and settle in Texas, hoping to broaden the perspectives of their children, including Tasmin, a young woman of grit, beauty, and cunning. But when Tasmin’s fast-developing relationship with Jim Snow, a frontiersman and ferocious Indian fighter, begins to dictate the family’s course, they move further into the expansive and hostile wilderness and into the path of Indians, pioneers, mountain men, and explorers. As Lord Berrybender’s health falters, and the rest of the family goes to pieces around him, Tasmin finds herself taking command of their collective fate and is finally forced to decide where her future lies.
Full of real and fascinating characters, famous shoot-outs, adventure, humor, love, and loss, The Berrybender Narratives is an epic of the American West during its period of transformation, a landscape that nobody understands better than Larry McMurtry.
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.
“Irresistible storytelling . . . Rich and satisfying.” —The New York Times
“McMurtry has reminded us that, in the hands of a maser, entertaining, old-fashioned storytelling rooted firmly in uniquely American experiences and landscape is pretty darn hard to beat.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Few authors match McMurtry’s voice of unsentimental authority when it comes to describing the random brutality and natural hazards that greeted those hardy pioneers who ventured west. . . . [Tasmin is] the best female character in McMurtry’s ever-growing oeuvre since Jacy in The Last Picture Show.” —Chicago Tribune
“Irresistible storytelling . . . The country he portrays is magnificent and violent, with shocking extremes of storm and tranquility. And McMurtry’s exquisite descriptions are written for a single breath, bringing their objects to life with a few well-chosen words . . . Rich and satisfying.” —The New York Times
“An old-fashioned, ripping good yarn . . . A wistful elegy for a lost way of life, and an exploration of the choice to be made between the English life with its order and pattern, or the frontier life with its vast beauty and frequent danger.” —Seattle Times
“Aficionados of Western fiction know that in the work of Larry McMurtry they will find not only first-rate story-telling but also authenticity and a sure mastery of the history and habits of the Old West. . . . In The Berrybender Narratives, he has created an utterly original epic of the Frontier.” —Richmond Times Dispatch