This is a Page Turners from the Past Three-Fer! The reading of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show led to his Texasville and then to the last of what the literati call a trilogy—Duane’s Depressed!
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The Last Picture Show
Simon & Schuster (1966)
If you like coming of age novels and haven’t read the novel or seen the film, then start right at the beginning and read The Last Picture Show. It’s set in the 1950s in Thalia, a butt ugly little Texas oil town where frankly there isn’t much going on. Oil rigs work the dusty prairie, young high schoolers—co-protagonists Duane and Sonny, best friends—shoot pool, drink beer and play on the football team. They sleep in class and stir long enough for both of them to fall in love with Jacy Farrow, the prom queen. And all of this plays around Thalia’s “cultural centers,” an old movie hall where the population watches classics from the 50’s—kids make out in the balcony, the elders enjoy Ronald Reagan and Grace Kelly. And then there’s the pool hall. Owned by a solid citizen named The Lion, it is where Thalia’s male population gathers to chew, spit, drink, talk sex, shoot a lotta bull and a little pool.
The novel is funny sad, and sexy. In Thalia, sex trumps football as the town’s favorite sport with the citizens playing out their “attractions” with little or no feelings. Read More »
“One of my favorite older books is The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. It was published in 1943, but I read it for the first time in 1986 while I was in law school. The plot and characters were sufficiently compelling to make me sneak downward glances and keep reading while my professors lectured on torts and contracts. The particular genius of the book, in addition to its much-ballyhooed status as a bully pulpit for Rand’s “objectivism” philosophy, is found in how deeply Rand makes you care about the characters and in particular the protagonist Howard Roark. Because I read it first as a young man, full of steam and vigor, I identified with Roark and his passion to follow his vision despite the architectural world’s rigid and monolithic (pun intended) insistence on particular motifs and styles and themes. Even now, on a rereading, I found myself rooting for Roark against the establishment. If you’ve never read it, don’t start it until you have a good chunk of time to commit—either that, or be prepared to sneak downward glances when you should be otherwise occupied. It will grab you.
“Something Wicked This Way Comes, a 1962 dark fantasy from Ray Bradbury, is the principal reason I am a Bradbury fan today. Bradbury is the undisputed master of lyrical prose, that is, prose that is written in the manner of narrative fiction, but which shines with its own rhythm and voice, as might a poem or lyrics. The plot is interesting, yes, but the words Bradbury uses and the way he crafts them together as if he is singing to the reader is mesmerizing. The prose is so evocative of October and Halloween and cornfields and circuses and pumpkins that no matter the time of year, you feel like putting on a sweater and drinking some cider when you read it. Think back to when you were a kid, out trick-or-treating, the wind cold on your back, and you smell the air and the leaves and the pumpkins—that’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.”
— Bradlee Frazer, author, speaker, blogger and Boise, Idaho, native. He is the lawyer who successfully registered the color blue as a trademark for the iconic artificial turf in Boise State University’s football stadium. His nonfiction has been published in national legal treatises on matters of Internet and intellectual property law, and he is a frequent speaker on those topics. His works of fiction include the short story “Occam’s Razor,” which was published in an online literary journal. The Cure is his first novel. For a look at Frazer’s works go to http://bradleefrazer.com.