by Larry McMurtry


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Long considered to be the brilliant dark horse of literary nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning Larry McMurtry delivers a searing and reflective exploration of what paradise is, whether it exists, and how different it is from life in his Texas hometown.

In 1999, Larry McMurtry, whose wanderlust had been previously restricted to the roads of America, set off for a trip to the paradise of Tahiti and the South Sea Islands in an old-fashioned tub of a cruise boat, at a time when his mother was slipping toward a paradise of her own. Opening up to her son in her final days, his mother makes a stunning revelation of a previous marriage and sends McMurtry on a journey of an entirely different kind.

Vividly, movingly, and with infinite care, McMurtry paints a portrait of his parents' marriage against the harsh, violent landscape of west Texas. It is their roots—laced with overtones of hard work, bitter disappointment, and the Puritan ethic—that McMurtry challenges by traveling to Tahiti, a land of lush sensuality and easy living. With fascinating detail, shrewd observations, humorous pathos, and unforgettable characters, he begins to answer some of the questions of what paradise is, whether it exists, and how different it is from life in his hometown of Archer City, Texas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743215664
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 05/21/2002
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 625,851
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.36(d)

About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.


Archer City, Texas

Date of Birth:

June 3, 1936

Place of Birth:

Wichita Falls, Texas


B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

George Scialabba The Washington Post McMurtry...cannot write a slack or self-important sentence...this [is a] short, sweet book.

Amanda Heller The Boston Globe Larry McMurtry is at his most charming in this shipboard travelogue...His Paradise, though tinged with regret, is paradise enow.

Mark Busby The Austin Chronicle Paradise is a tight little book...Charting the twains of heaven and hell, ecstasy and agony, is the cartography of the writer and the terrain of Paradise...In the end, it serves as a postcard from child to mom, recalling love before knowledge but written long after the fall.

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Paradise 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
jspurdy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This short book, equal parts memoir and travelogue, continues the reflections by McMurtry that were earlier begun in Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen and Roads. With his mother nearing the end of her life, McMurtry travels to a culture far away and different from his childhood home on the plains of Texas. His sojourn follows that of other artists, writers, and explorers, traveling to the South Seas in search of Paradise. What McMurtry finds is a world not markedly different from the one he is more familiar with; the dying small towns and Indian reservations of the American West. A shrewd observer of culture, the author notes many parallels between these societies. McMurtry offers generally unflattering views of his travel companions, who fail to understand that by seeking out the last unspoiled places in the world, they are themselves changing them forever.While not my favorite work of non-fiction by McMurtry, this was a quick read and enjoyable.