JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I'm set to stat out with Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove again--a great American novel, perhaps one of the Great American Novels, along with such masterpieces as Moby-Dick and William Gaddis' The Recognitions. Its a superb book, LD is, terrific story and the best dialog in the modern writing business. And it also has a ton of history in there, just underneath the words, there for the taking, if you want it. Part of McMurtry's great craft was to weave the history semi-unseen in his novel, displayed to the reader who wanted to see it; translucent to the reader who didn't need it. It is a superb accomplishment.
The book starts with a simple dedication, "for Maureen Orth, and in memory of the nine McMurry boys (1878-1983) "Once in the saddle they used to go dashing..."
That line of course belongs here, the first lines from “The Cowboy’s Lament,” one of the great epic songs of the American West, a version of which follows:
“It was once in the saddle we used to go dashing,
It was once in the saddle we used to go gay.
First took to drinking and then to card playing
Got shot in the neck and now here I lay.
Beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly,
Play the Dead March as you bear me along.
Take me to Boothill and throw the dirt over me
I’m but a poor Cowboy, I know I done wrong.”
The roots of this classic song extend back to popular songs of the early 18th century such as “The Bad Girl’s Lament” and “St. James Infirmary.” Its modern version has hundreds of text variations and pieces of the lyrics can be found in many other songs—“The Dying Ranger,” “The Kansas Lines,” “The Dying Cowboy” and “The Streets of Laredo” among them.
It sounds awfully good in the hands of Mr. Cash (American IV, 2002)--hard to believe it has been ten years:
Its a good way to start a book.