Telegraph Days

June 2006By Comments

Meet Nellie Courtright, the resourceful, charming, and enthusiastically copulating protagonist of LARRY MCMURTRY’s Wild West saga TELEGRAPH DAYS. Her father has just “suicided himself,” leaving the 22-year-old and her teenage brother, Jackson, to fend for themselves in the barren no-man’s-land north of Texas. But Nellie goes one better and acquires some measure of fortune and fame. McMurtry writes her life as a parallel of the frontier’s rapid-fire metamorphosis in the 1870’s and 1880’s: She makes the push west, finds boomtown prosperity in untamed places like Tombstone, works for a spell with Buffalo Bill Cody’s shows exhibiting an already disappearing Wild West to the world, and eventually lands in Hollywood writing “scenarios” for the big screen and immortalizing shoot-outs and outlaws. Telegraph Days is vintage McMurtry in a fine new bottle—filled with telling historical detail and atmospheric with choking dust and whiskey-breathed cowhands. Simon & Schuster, $25

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