Bookmarked: Larry McMurtry's The Last Picture Show (2017)
"Part appreciation, part memoir and thoroughly enjoyable."
—Dallas Morning News
"For this entry in the Bookmarked series, in which writers articulate how a particular book has influenced them, novelist Yarbrough (The Realm of Last Chances) discusses McMurtry’s classic tale of small-town Texas life. Yarbrough details his own small-town Mississippi upbringing and skillfully conveys its complex matrix of race and class, the tug-of-war between religion and sexual desire, and the way in which his father’s unrealized dreams colored much of his own life. Yarbrough, like Picture Show’s protagonist Sonny Crawford, was a football star who lost his footing as soon as he graduated. Also like McMurtry’s protagonist, he embarked on an affair with an older, married woman, an experience Yarbrough recounts unflinchingly. He does not ignore Peter Bogdanovich’s successful film adaptation, but his focus remains on how McMurtry’s novel, with its potent mix of sex, religion, and class, reflects his own upbringing. His vivid work leaves no doubt about the impact that reading can have on a person’s life. As Yarbrough concludes, about first reading McMurtry, “[The Last Picture Show] would convince me that lives like mine, and those of the people I saw around me in a place I hated at least as much as I loved it, were worth an infinite number of stories.”