Review: Comanche Moon

Comanche Moon
Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Larry McMurtry is probably the most frustrating writer I keep coming back to. It irritates me that he slips from head to head to head in the narrative flow. It vexes me that we have to read about the same thing from multiple perspectives sometimes. And it makes me want to pull my hair out that there are pages and pages of back story that, while it may serve to deepen characterization, otherwise serve absolutely no purpose. Do we really need to know the life story of a man who is only there to deliver information and die?

And yet … And yet … I couldn’t wait to slip back into the world of Gus and Woodrow and their friends and enemies.

This book fills in so many gaps and answers a ton of questions raised during the reading of Lonesome Dove. I suppose discussing those here would be huge spoilers, so I’ll just say this one really didn’t help soften my opinion of Woodrow.

The ending of the book is rather disappointing. Expected big showdowns between our lead Rangers and the two Indian rivals they’ve been battling for two very long books doesn’t come. On the one hand, I suppose that mirrors the way real life often works. On the other hand, this isn’t real life.

One thing I definitely have to say for McMurtry is that he expertly makes the reader care about Buffalo Hump and Kicking Wolf, both of whom are ruthless, cold-blooded killers who do horrible things. And yet we can’t help but empathize with them as they watch their culture die all around them.

It was pretty frustrating that Inesh Scull, who I found to be a fascinating character, never … Ugh. Spoiler alert! He never re-enters the main thread of the narrative.

There are still gaps in the story and things glossed over. We never see Gus interact with either of his wives, for instance. Was he a good husband? Did he stop whoring while he was married? We just jump over several years and learn that his first wife is dead and gone and his second is on her deathbed. Considering the importance of Clara to the overall story, I would have thought Gus’s marriage to not one but two other women was sort of a big deal.

I listened to this on audio, so I have to say a word about the narration. I strongly disliked Frank Muller’s narration. He has a habit of splitting one-syllable words into two and rising his inflections as if a statement is a question. Will Patton did an amazing job with Dead Man’s Walk, so Muller’s narration at first was a jarring surprise that soon became a dull irritant. His narration of Scull’s parts of the story, however, seemed fitting.

Despite some misgivings, I have truly enjoyed both Dead Man’s Walk and Comanche Moon. I suppose I should revisit Lonesome Dove before moving on to Streets of Lorado. I’m just not sure … the ending made me so mad the first time. Maybe I’ll just watch the mini-series again instead. If you’re looking for a story of the Old West that is more than a shoot-em-up with cardboard characters, give this series a try.

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