Daugherty paints a vivid picture of the novelist ... The result of dogged research and sharp analysis — this is a wonderfully absorbing book, on par with McMurtry’s own enduring work ... Daugherty doesn’t play at being a psychologist, but his insights into McMurtry’s personality, backed up by the novelist’s letters and books, are fascinating ... Daugherty writes with sensitivity about McMurtry’s later years ... Excellent.
Episodic this biography is. It’s also vastly entertaining ... Reads a bit like one of McMurtry’s novels. Elegy and humor bleed into each other. This biography contains many sentences that verge on the humorous ... He rakes his material into a story that has movement; he’s a good reader of the novels; he has an eye for anecdote and the telling quote ... Comprehensive.
A very readable and even impressive biography, Tracy Daugherty discusses all of McMurtry’s books with both authority and affection. Mr. Daugherty is also absorbing when he writes about McMurtry’s personal life and his nonwriting literary life, which were melded into one ... Mr. Daugherty is equally good recounting McMurtry’s time in California as a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and his career as a rare-book dealer in Washington, D.C.
McMurtry emerges as a perpetually ambivalent figure, one who eventually became a part of the mythology that he insisted he was attempting to dismantle ... Daugherty’s biography is full of entertaining cameos ... But the anecdotes, many of them drawn from McMurtry’s own writing about his life, can feel like a shield. A deeper sense of McMurtry remains elusive throughout the biography; he comes across as a hard man to get to know well ... The final third of Daugherty’s book makes for bleak reading.
Told capably ... This is the first McMurtry biography, probably not the last, and better than most quick turnarounds ... Daugherty has a good grasp of Texas literary history and the cooperation of those closest to his subject. If his prose is unadorned and his approach profoundly middlebrow, well, so was McMurtry’s.
Daugherty blends authoritative research with resplendent prose, providing absorbing detail to illuminate how McMurtry’s childhood, academic career, domestic life, and friendships shaped his personality and work. This flowing, even avuncular portrait definitively situates McMurtry’s oeuvre in the American canon.