Once considered minor gentry in Virginia, 22-year-old Nellie Courtright and her brother, Jackson, are now all that remain of their family after an ill-fated journey out West. A dusty town on the plains called Rita Blanca becomes the Courtrights' new home. Nellie takes a job as a lickety-split telegraph operator, and her brother becomes the sheriff's deputy. When he single-handedly takes down the notorious Yazee gang, Nellie scribbles a booklet about the gunfight, becoming an author. Soon she meets Buffalo Bill Cody, and because Nellie strikes him as organized, he offers her a job overseeing his many businesses while he runs around the country producing his Wild West Show. Nellie's amorous adventures are many, and the novel is peppered with sudden couplings. Sassing her way through a series of sometimes improbable adventures that just happen to put her in the middle of famous moments in history, Nellie proves herself irresistible. Although not as epic as Lonesome Dove, Telegraph Days surely seems of the same vintage-good news for the legions of McMurtry fans. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/06.]-Keddy Ann Outlaw, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
McMurtry's latest skips through western lore with a wry smile. Marie Antoinette "Nellie" Courtright and her brother, Jackson, bereft of family after their Virginia clan dies off one by one, arrive in Rita Blanca in 1876, in what would become the Oklahoma Panhandle, to remake themselves. Jackson is made a deputy sheriff and Nellie takes over the telegraph office. In short order, Jackson shoots down an entire gang of outlaws, and Nellie promptly writes it up to launch a lucrative literary career. Other adventures await: she becomes manager of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, boldly faces down Jesse James's attempt to rob her and witnesses the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. She becomes mayor of Rita Blanca, a mother of six and, later, friends with Lillian Gish and William B. Mayer. Beautiful and sexually insatiable, Nellie is a witty, sophisticated, accomplished, cunning, impudent and highly improbable woman-more than a match for any man she meets, which isn't saying much, since they're all idiots. She also is little more than a reworking of several previous McMurtry heroines, especially The Berrybender Narratives' Tasmin. This tale is contrived, episodic and lacks cohesion, and its constant comedy is self-conscious. But most readers won't be able to help cracking a smile over McMurtry's 38th book, as purposely over-the-top as an episode of South Park. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A darn good read: an entertaining spoof about the Wild West that brings alive the romance of outlaws, gunfighters and shootouts.... McMurtry has created a modern-day dime novel, a romantic knock-up of the West -- proof that an old-fashioned oater can be as much fun to read as a literary work." -- "The Washington Post" "Sassing her way through a series of sometimes improbable adventures that just happen to put her in the middle of famous moments in history, Nellie proves herself irresistible." -- "Library Journal" "Entertaining." -- "The Washington Post" "Most readers won't be able to help cracking a smile.... As purposely over-the-top as an episode of "South Park"." -- "Publishers Weekly" "This rollicking epic is filled with excitement and humor, tinged with sadness and a longing for the past." -- "Booklist" "More laughs and a lot more sex.... An easy, breezy read." -- "Kirkus Reviews"