Saddle Up for the Summer of Lonesome Dove

The four-book series started with Lonesome Dove 35 years ago.
The four-book series started with Lonesome Dove 35 years ago.
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Does living through a pandemic make you long for simpler times? How about 35 years ago, when Larry McMurtry published Lonesome Dove? Or maybe the West of the late 1870s, the setting for McMurtry's epic book that follows two Texas Rangers on a cattle drive from this country's southernmost border to the wilds of Montana?

The months ahead may look like the summer of uncertainty, but it will also be the Summer of Lonesome Dove. And as part of the festivities, the Lakewood-based Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association has selected McMurtry for its 2020 Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award.

The award is not an annual honor; since the MPIBA founded the Reading the West Book Awards program, it's given the Spirit of the West award when MPIBA members feel that an author is particularly deserving. Previous Spirit of the West honorees include Kent Haruf, Linda Hogan, Sandra Cisneros, Jim Harrison and Terry Tempest Williams.

Bookstores around the country are planning events throughout the Summer of Lonesome Dove to encourage people to read (or re-read) McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, which provided the inspiration for three more books in the series (not to mention a great four-part television movie). McMurtry has written more than thirty books (including 29 novels), and the Summer of Lonesome Dove is sponsored by his longtime publisher, Simon & Schuster.

Although the McMurtry honor was just announced, there are more Reading the West Book Awards winners to come...and you can help determine them. Booksellers in the MPIBA region curated shortlists from over 150 nominations; vote for your favorites through Sunday, May 17, at readingthewest.com.

The winners will be announced May 20.

Watch the MPIBA website for upcoming Summer of Lonesome Dove events in the area.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.