The Last Kind Words Saloon

The Last Kind Words Saloon

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Larry McMurtry has done more than any other living writer to shape our literary imagination of the American West. With The Last Kind Words Saloon he returns again to the vivid and unsparing portrait of the nineteenth-century and cowboy lifestyle made so memorable in his classic Lonesome Dove. Evoking the greatest characters and legends of the Old Wild West, here McMurtry tells the story of the closing of the American frontier through the travails of two of its most immortal figures: Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.Opening in the settlement of Long Grass, Texas--not quite in Kansas, and nearly New Mexico--we encounter the taciturn Wyatt, whiling away his time in between bottles, and the dentist-turned-gunslinger Doc, more adept at poker than extracting teeth. Now hailed as heroes for their days of subduing drunks in Abilene and Dodge--more often with a mean look than a pistol--Wyatt and Doc are living out the last days of a way of life that is passing into history, two men never more aware of the growing distance between their lives and their legends.Along with Wyatt's wife, Jessie, who runs the titular saloon, we meet Lord Ernle, an English baron; the exotic courtesan San Saba, "the most beautiful whore on the plains"; Charlie Goodnight, the Texas Ranger turned cattle driver last seen in McMurtry's Comanche Moon, and Nellie Courtright, the witty and irrepressible heroine of Telegraph Days.McMurtry traces the rich and varied friendship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday from the town of Long Grass to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in Denver, then to Mobetie, Texas, and finally to Tombstone, Arizona, culminating with the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral, rendered here in McMurtry's stark and peerless prose.With the buffalo herds gone, the Comanche defeated, and vast swaths of the Great Plains being enclosed by cattle ranches, Wyatt and Doc live on, even as the storied West that forged their myths disappears. As harsh and beautiful, and as brutal and captivating as the open range it depicts, The Last Kind Words Saloon celebrates the genius of one of our most original American writers.
Publisher: New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, c2014.
ISBN: 9780871407863
Characteristics: 196 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 15, 2017

I did not care for this one unfortunately. I found the premise to sound pretty interesting, Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp palling around before their time in Tombstone, sounds like fun. However, this just came off as being sexist and racist. All of the female characters were treated horribly and the minority characters were made out to be stupid or border line evil. I'm just glad that it was short.

Jun 18, 2017

Wanted to like it-couldn't. Throw out the male characters-they are useless, the gals show the old time western character but really need to dump the useless bunch of dodos they are paired up with. What was McMurty doing here-trying to make us hate the West.?

Oct 12, 2016

McMurtry isn't taking himself as seriously these days as he did a generation ago. It becomes him.

Peels the Wyatt Earp Doc Holliday mythology the way we'd peel an onion and replaces it with a more human mythology that includes personal traits a lot nearer reality.

Aug 18, 2016

Follows the friendship of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with supporting characters such as Charlie Goodnight as it traces their journey from Long Grass, Texas, to the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
It starts out weakly, but gathers momentum. In the 58 short chapters, the dry humor and brief dialogue works well at times, but the development of characters and situations is a bit wanting.

Apr 20, 2015

Disappointing McMurtry Western.

Jul 19, 2014

"Lonesome Dove" it ain't. Sparse, a quick read, and a quick write. I think Larry knocked it out between several bourbons and branch water at his favorite watering hole. Reader Sanrin is correct; the female characters are more vital than the males.

Jun 13, 2014

Presented as a "ballad," the novel is spare -- in dialogue, in descriptions -- and broken into a number of brief chapters that follow historic characters such as the Earp brothers, Doc Holiday, and Buffalo Bill as the WIld West draws to a close. Unfortunately, the characters are drawn so tersely that it's hard to care about them. The female characters seem to have more variety, and they convey the hardships of living out on the plains.

KCLSLibrarians Jun 03, 2014

Short, sharp, dry, dusty. I really enjoyed the dry humor and sparse dialogue. I've read a number of other McMurtry novels and like this one the best. If you do end up liking this book, try Pete Dexter's Deadwood.

May 09, 2014

This short novel of 60 short chapters has some moments that capture the McMurtry magic of Lonesome Dove and Buffalo Girls, but those moments are few.

It has to be extremely frustrating for an author to have any new work judged in the light of his earlier work, but when you create such an iconic masterpiece like Lonesome Dove it should be expected.

This tale of the Earp brothers and Charlie Goodnight had the possibility of greatness, but McMurtry did not spend enough time on the characters to allow the reader to care about them. Even Goodnight, a favorite of McMurtry, is only an faint blur against an impressionistic background.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

RDPL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top