Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen
I wrote a little about this book a week or so ago, but here’s the setup: McMurtry reads Walter Benjamin’s essay, “The Storyteller” (from Illuminations) in the Archer City Dairy Queen and starts thinking and writing about storytelling, his upbringing, and his love of books and reading.
McMurtry was raised on a ranch, but once he discovered reading, he realized, “I was a reader, not a cowboy.” He said he “read my way out of that culture.”
Literature, as I saw it then, was a vast open range, my equivalent of the cowboy’s dream. I felt free as any nomad to roam where I pleased, amid the wild growth of books. Eventually I formed my own book herds and brought them into more or less orderly systems of pasturage. I even branded them with a bookplate that had once been the family brand: a stirrup drawn simply and elegantly by my father.
Here’s a bit about finding folks who can point you towards good books:
I figured out that the way to find out what to read was to locate a great reader and follow in his or her tracks. There are, though, surprisingly few great readers—they are as rare now as giant pandas. Once one is located, even his obiter dicta are not to be disregarded.
And finally, I loved this bit about the Texas sky:
In the West lifting up one’s eyes to the heavens can be a wise thing, for much of the land is ugly. The beauty of the sky is redemptive; its beauty prompts us to forgive the land its cruelty, its brutal power.
It’s a pleasant, short read.
Filed under: Larry McMurtry, my reading year 2012