Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen : reflections at sixty and beyond

by Larry McMurtry

Paper Book, 1999




New York : Simon & Schuster, c1999.


In a lucid, brilliant work of nonfiction -- as close to an autobiography as his readers are likely to get -- Larry McMurtry has written a family portrait that also serves as a larger portrait of Texas itself, as it was and as it has become. Using as a springboard an essay by the German literary critic Walter Benjamin that he first read in Archer City's Dairy Queen, McMurtry examines the small-town way of life that big oil and big ranching have nearly destroyed. He praises the virtues of everything from a lime Dr. Pepper to the lost art of oral storytelling, and describes the brutal effect of the sheer vastness and emptiness of the Texas landscape on Texans, the decline of the cowboy, and the reality and the myth of the frontier. McMurtry writes frankly and with deep feeling about his own experiences as a writer, a parent, and a heart patient, and he deftly lays bare the raw material that helped shape his life's work: the creation of a vast, ambitious, fictional panorama of Texas in the past and the present. Throughout, McMurtry leaves his readers with constant reminders of his all-encompassing, boundless love of literature and books.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member hatchibombotar
I must have read this for the first time in the summer of 2000, when I lived in Austin. I remember getting the book from the new releases section of the Perry-CastaƱeda library at UT. I guess the combination of Texas and Walter Benjamin appealed to me, and I greatly enjoyed the essays on reading and bookeslling. When I saw the book again in the Tattered Cover bargain section, I felt the urge to read it again.… (more)
LibraryThing member frannyor
I checked out at the point where he started ranting about how not sharing dinner has ruined family life in America. Please. I was a single mom in the 80s and 90s, and we had dinner together every night. It's like that perennial 'funny' story about how college freshmen mangle history. Been there, read that.
LibraryThing member realbigcat
This book is about as close a memoir from Larry McMurty as you will likely find. The spans the early years of the McMurtry family and their setteling in the frontier Texas. It's easy to see how McMurtry got the background for all his great western novels. However, just a quickly as he paints a picture of early Texas he moves to his real passion which is buying, selling, collecting and reading books. A fter reading this it's hard to find anyone else that has been so influenced by the written word. McMurtry's knowledge of authors, books and literature is probably unequaled. I am truly amazed at how "well read" McMurtry is. As much as he devotes to how books have influenced his life he gives the reader little else of his personal life. He does open up about his heart problems and how he went through a period where in his words he "couldn't read." If you enjoy reading about what writers like to read and some insight to their libraries then this book is a good read and you should follow it up with his current work titled "Books."… (more)
LibraryThing member nmele
Larry McMurtry is one of my favorite living novelists, and this set of reflections on literature, the American West, history and his own life is a book I have been recommending since I first read it a few years back. Rereading it with my book club moved me to order a copy, because this is one of the books I want to have in my library.… (more)
LibraryThing member tracysbooks
Working in a library and a lover of books and stories since I was a child this book appealed to my senses in numerous ways. After reading it, I finished it just yesterday on an airplane flight from Virginia to Chicago....I feel like I could read it again and again and never grow tired. I love when authors pass along other authors and reads and books that inspired them. McMurtry does this throughout the entire book, enough so, that the interlibrary loan copy I have from UL Lafayette library has several dog-eared pages so I can go back and look up titles. With that said, I feel that I need to own this book for future reference. This book is for anyone who loves memoir, books, stories, history, Texas, cowboys and cowgirls, reading, and reflection. I am happy to have found it and will head over to for a beat up used copy. This one is a keeper. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.… (more)


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