Quotations by McMurtry, Larry


Obviously, where art has it over life is in the matter of editing. Life can be seen to suffer from a drastic lack of editing. It stops too quick, or else it goes on too long. Worse, its pacing is erratic. Some chapters are little more than a few sentences in length, while others stretch into volumes. Life, for all its raw talent, has little sense of structure. It creates amazing textures, but it can’t be counted on for snappy beginnings or good endings either. Indeed, in many cases no ending is provided at all. The kind of work that Maxwell Perkins did for Thomas Wolfe, or more recently, that Verna Fields did for Stephen Spielberg, doesn’t get done in life. Even in a literary age like the nineteenth century it never occurred to anyone to posit God as Editor, useful as the metaphor might have been.

Larry McMurtry (b. 1936) American novelist, essayist, bookseller, screenwriter
“‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’ and the Movie-Less Novelists,” Film Flam: Essays on Hollywood (1987)
Added on 20-Aug-12 | Last updated 20-Aug-12
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Americans’ lack of passion for history is well known. History may not quite be bunk, as Henry Ford suggested, but there’s no denying that, as a people, we sustain a passionate concentration on the present and the future. Backward is just not a natural direction for Americans to look — historical ignorance remains a national characteristic.

Larry McMurtry (b. 1936) American novelist, essayist, bookseller, screenwriter
Oh What a Slaughter: Massacres in the American West: 1846–1890 (2005)
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Added on 1-Jan-19 | Last updated 1-Jan-19
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The lives of happy people are dense with their own doings — crowded, active, thick. […] But the sorrowing are nomads, on a plain with few landmarks and no boundaries; sorrow’s horizons are vague and its demands are few.

Larry McMurtry (b. 1936) American novelist, essayist, bookseller, screenwriter
Some Can Whistle, pt. 4, ch. 9 (1989)
Added on 3-Aug-12 | Last updated 3-Aug-12
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