When the Light Goes

Be thankful LARRY MCMURTRY decided his Thalia trilogy deserved a fourth book, because WHEN THE LIGHT GOES is an essential (though not to say concluding) chapter in the Duane Moore saga. Duane, introduced as a callow teen in The Last Picture Show but now a big-deal oilman in his tiny hometown, feels time nipping at his heels and fears he can’t outrun despair. An unexpected sexual encounter with his shrink improves his frame of mind somewhat—even if her lesbian bent puts a definite horizon on the relationship and age has taken some of the steel out of Duane’s sword. Better, an unconsummated flirtation with the intriguing Annie Cameron, a fresh-faced geologist, threatens to blossom into something very much like real companionship. When the Light Goes is McMurtry’s piquantly comic celebration of the absurdity of aging. Duane might mourn the past, but he’s still breathing—and, damn, those are fine crab rolls at the new Sri Lankan Asia Wonder Deli. Sometimes that’s reason enough to get out of bed in the morning.

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