The Last Kind Words Saloon is a testament to how much you can get away with when you’re a famous novelist. The Last Kind Words Saloon purports to be a novel about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and the road to their famous shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, but in truth it is barely a novel at all. With 60 short chapters in a novel under 200 pages long there is barely time for any plot to occur.
McMurtry tries to dispel some myths of the Old West by depicting Wyatt not as the fabled lawman but as a frequently drunk layabout who hits his wife when he can’t control her. Doc Holiday is a besotted poker player who has to borrow a gun when he needs one. When the pair are hired for a gunfight act in Buffalo Bill’s wild west show they severely disappoint audiences.
There’s also some stuff about cattle baron Charlie Goodnight and his unusual household, but since this really doesn’t go anywhere it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Unless you are some kind of McMurtry completist I can’t understand who would bother with this book. There have got to be dozen of better books, both fiction and non-fiction, about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.