James \(who often works similar material in virtues of small-town and rural Texas never were what they appeared to be. Yet for many those virtues were the only thing that gave life any form or meaning at all. In his series of novels which began with Moving On and proceeded through All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, Terms of Endearment, Somebody’s Darling, Cadillac Jack and Texasville, McMurtry exploressometimes close to the center of his work, and other times in small subplotsan entire generation cut loose from its moorings: Mexican janitors working in the Rice library, citybillies beating each other senseless in bars on Houston’s Telephone Road, strippers climbing into hot tubs with strangers, all of them never quite making the transition from small-town to urban Texas. Once they’re cut loose, many of them, like the protagonist in The Desert Rose who left Tarwater with designs on New Yorkuntil Trailways offered a special on tickets to Las Vegasdrift across the continent. Life, McMurtry understands, just hasn’t provided them much of a roadmap. “Do you ever get the feeling that you don’t know how to live?” Harmony asks midway through Book Three. “That’s how I feel. I just don’t know how to live.” In The Late Child, two nights in Tarwater are more than enough to convince the protagonist that she won’t find any direction there, where her parents’ generation has been displaced by the degenerations following. The economy is dead, her brother is in jail for making obscene phone calls, her nieces and nephews work in convenience stores, buy or sell drugs and commit a variety of less-than-creative felonies. At least in big cities there are enough people “to dilute the sadness.” Las Vegas works, is without pretense, and some of the people who’ve put down roots there care for one another. Small-town America is not Lake Woebegone. Larry McMurtry understood that even before Sam the Lion died in the Last Picture Show. In a dozen novelssome as monumental as Leaving Cheyenne and Moving On and others as uneven as this onehe’s explored a particular human geography in a way that few other writers have. Texas today. A state full of Sunbelt boosters, anti-unionists, oil and gas companies, nuclear weapons and power plants, political hucksters, underpaid workers and toxic wastes, to mention a few. r dib ,Till TEXAS 11 IP server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip $32 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $32. 307 West Itii, Austin, TX 78701 CLASSIFIEDS WORK for single-payer National Health Care. Join GRAY PANTHERS, intergenerational advocates against ageism and for progressive policies promoting social and economic justice. $20 individual, $35 family. 3710 Cedar, Austin, TEXAS AIDS NETWORK dedicated to improving HIV/AIDS policy and funding in Texas. Individual membership $25, P.O. Box 2395, Austin, TX LESBIAN/GAY DEMOCRATS of Texas -Our Voice in the Party. Membership $15, P.O. 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