Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Trucker Takes to the Open Road - on Foot Larry McMurtry Concludes the Trilogy That Began with 'The Last PictureShow.'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Trucker Takes to the Open Road - on Foot Larry McMurtry Concludes the Trilogy That Began with 'The Last PictureShow.'

Article excerpt

DUANE'S DEPRESSED By Larry McMurtry Simon & Schuster 432 pp., $26 Ever since the Pilgrims left England, Americans have loved stories about people who wander away from it all. In "Walden," Henry David Thoreau left his family's pencil factory and went to the woods to live deliberately. Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown promised his new wife he'd be gone just one night. John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom drove away from his dull home without even saying goodbye. And now the hero of Larry McMurtry's "Duane's Depressed" has parked his brand-new pickup truck and started walking down the road. Of course, this isn't just exercise: It's revolution. At 62, Duane has achieved the sort of success most people aim for. Decades of hard work in the oil business have earned him a life of prosperity in Thalia, Texas, but something's wrong. For one, the house is packed with his trailer-trash children and their whiny kids. The fire has sputtered out of his 40-year marriage to well-meaning, but controlling Karla. He laments that "all his life he had worked too hard to allow himself the time to be curious, to learn things that were interesting rather than merely useful." As an innocent act of rebellion against vague feelings of disappointment, Duane parks his pickup truck and takes to the road on foot. In this oil town, that's a small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind. Twelve neighbors drive by, and all 12 offer him a ride. " 'No thanks,' Duane said, 12 times. 'I'm just out for a walk.' 'Out for a what?'.... Duane thinks, "The country had slowly come to accept C-SPAN and computers - in a few months they could probably be brought to accept a walker, too." Acceptance from his confrontational wife, however, doesn't look so promising. She explodes in a burst of accusations, worries, and guilt. …

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