He had much to say
about Texas, Texans, Mexicans,
and the cowboy way.
McMurtry, best known
for essays, books, and movie scripts
which Hollywood’s Oscar would pay.
But Larry most loved book scouting,
a proud bibliopolist,
another dying breed.
Look both ways learning about history, myth, legend, and reality.
Mind the gaps because therein may hide the best of the stories.
Larry Jeff McMurtry (1936-2021) was an American novelist, essayist, bookseller (book-scout) and screenwriter whose work was predominantly set in either the Old West or contemporary Texas. Dying breeds, historical truth, and books attracted him personally and professionally. My favorite McMurtry quotes are:
“People would be bored shitless if they had to love only the good in someone they care about.”
“Backward is just not a natural direction for Americans to look – historical ignorance remains a national characteristic.”
“Only a rank degenerate would drive 1,500 miles across Texas without eating a chicken fried steak.”
Unlike the discomfort people feel toward harmless book collections, fearful of those pillars of civilization, even dumb readers are smart. Readers aren’t rich, poor, intelligent, or stupid. They zestfully relish reading books like the ignorant cling to guns and unread bibles.
Look both ways and cherish lifelong learning. Mind the gaps and be who you are and what you are, enjoy life, and read on into eternity.
Because it was not in my MW online dictionary: John Koenig wrote that the word vellichor, which he apparently created, refers to “the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time…”
When Jean Webster
lived, wrote, and died,
grandmother was still alive.
Both lives ended
from new life inside.
My century+ old copy
with stains and library marks
has redolent suggestions
of hidden stacks in bookstores.
Vellichor, the petrichor of paper,
print, and the souls
of past passionate readers.
Look both ways as you hold hundreds of years in your human hands.
Mind the gaps in time as we admire the history of the human mind.
Some things I’ve always known,
like where the Library was,
especially the one with a funny name,
the Osterhout Free Library,
in my hometown, which to me
was and is The Library.
Looking like the Presbyterian church
it first was in 1849,
with (now gone) ivy covered walls,
hinting of mysteries, adventures,
and the wisdom within;
a mile to walk was nothing
for a keen young lad to go
for a book or two.
Through church doors that open
into the vast, once Calvinistic,
nave with colorless unstained leaded glass,
now with desks and shelves filled
with books and things,
one finds it all.
Hush! Whisper please.
People are reading.
Off to the left dim dark stacks
beckoned like a secret
church transept and silent choir loft.
The true spirits of the library’s haunted
dark and dingy, yet welcoming,
old book-scented stacks, silent
dust and maybe mischief,
with muffled giggles of children
or lovers, each playing with
resident hushing ghosts.
Long ago—a place of prayer,
now a sanctuary
of human wisdom and happiness.
Comb the dark stacks of old libraries looking both ways for dusty old history.
Mind the gaps and giggles of the ghosts.
Note: Because this was my first community library during my formative years, it was what I expected all others to look like. Not a bad standard.