The wonderful Texas writer Larry McMurtry has given us another volume of his chatty, episodic memoirs, this one about his experiences in Hollywood as a screenwriter/producer. As with his previous memoirs on his bookselling and writing lives, McMurtry writes in a conversational, ruminative style that's highly entertaining. He pokes fun at readers and himself with a comment about complaints he's received about his short chapters; some of them in this book are two or three paragraphs long.
The book is really a series of vignettes, or snapshots, of Hollywood folks he's encountered, from Diane Keaton to Peter Bognanovich and Cybill Shepherd. He calls Keaton a great friend, and gives some of his most thorough dishing in discussing how Peter and Cybill grew to be a couple during the filming of "The Last Picture Show."
Another interesting chapter or two concerns another classic made from one of his novels, "Terms of Endearment." He talks about a dinner at the home of Jennifer Jones, who wanted the lead role in the movie, which later went to Shirley MacLaine. He also covers the making of "Hud" and "Lonesome Dove" and his experiences producing/writing the Oscar-winning "Brokeback Moutain." One of his most memorable character sketches is that of the late superagent Irving "Swifty" Lazar, whom McMurtry estimates cost him $15 million in clumsy negotiations for "Lonesome Dove."
Some critics will call McMurtry's book superficial, commercially exploitive and so forth. But McMurtry in his comments on the movie business and movie stars gives more insight in a brief chapter than can be found in most door-stopping tomes on "Film" or "The Cinema." He does complain a bit much about having to attend awards banquets -- oh, the horror -- but overall McMurtry again diplays his unique blend of worldliness, cynicism, wonder, Texas cowboy shrewdness, romanticism, and wry whimsy.