Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Larry McMurtry

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Conversation with Larry McMurtry

Article excerpt

The author of "The Last Kind Words Saloon" says that meth-heads are the worst part of being a bookseller. "Anyone can walk into our bookstore in the age of meth -- it's a constant worry."

Larry McMurtry

The author, most recently, of "The Last Kind Words Saloon" says that meth-heads are the worst part of being a bookseller. "Anyone can walk into our bookstore in the age of meth -- it's a constant worry."

Q. What books are currently on your night stand?

A.James Lees-Milne's "The Milk of Paradise" (Volume 12 of the Diaries); Eric Newby's "Slowly Down the Ganges."

Q. Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?

A.Count Tolstoy. He authored "Anna Karenina," what I consider the finest novel ever written. Joyce Carol Oates. She's intelligent, analytical, eccentrically prolific, a natural-born writer.

Q. Do you have a favorite genre?

A.No, although I prefer nonfiction to fiction. I reviewed so many novels in the 1970s that I sort of burned out on fiction. I enjoy books on travel and have an extensive women travelers collection in my personal library.

Q. What are the best books ever written about Texas?

A.Bill Brammer, "The Gay Place"; my own "Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen"; maybe J. Evetts Haley's "Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman."

Q. In 2012, you sold off much of the inventory of your bookstore, Booked Up, in Archer City, Tex. How did you decide which books should go?

A.I sold off half of my inventory, two buildings gone, two buildings stayed. Both buildings sold needed major repairs, which we could ill afford. So we sacrificed a lot of literature in translation, a lot of drama, some general travel, odds and ends. It was a normal downsizing. And we still have 290,000 excellent books. My personal library contains over 28,000 volumes, so I have plenty of books at home to keep me company.

Q. What has been the best thing about being in the bookselling business? The worst? …

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