Part of the Larry McMurtry Houston books, a collection that includes Terms of Endearment and Moving On, this book follows (through the narration of) Danny Deck, novelist and wayward figure who is a kind of shadowy figure in both those other novels. The three novel overlap in incomplete ways, so that they almost tell the same story or same long story in different chunks, with different perspectives. Here, like I said, we have Danny telling his own story as a grad student who gives up his studies after he sells his novel and marries a woman who seems to hate him, while not sleeping with one of the many women in his life who either love him, he loves, or see him as someone to sleep with and not take seriously.
So Danny wanders. And he worries. And he thinks. And he drinks. It’s a novel that has a few things to say about young manhood, young novelists, the country as we find it in the early 1970s, and how resistant to change all these things are. It’s a nice artifact of the early 1970s and is a solidly written novel full of pain and confusion.
Sometimes I forget how serious of a novelist Larry McMurtry can sometimes be. His five or so novels are so so good, and contemporary as they get, in that they feel absolutely drenched in the contemporary context. Danny Deck shares some biographical and personality details with McMurtry, although I don’t think they’re exactly the same. The self awareness McMurtry has means he couldn’t be Deck, who couldn’t have written this novel.