Last evening, I finished reading Larry McMurtry’s Books: A Memoir (2008). He sustained a theme about books in his life, defining himself in book lingo as antiquarian, second-hand bookseller and book scout. A few years ago, he settled back in his hometown of Archer City, Texas, bringing his Georgetown bookstore business into the small Texas town, about two hours away from where I live. The name of his bookstore in Archer City is the Blue Pig (merged with his Georgetown Booked Up bookstore) from the notorious pigs in Lonesome Dove. He owns six buildings on the square in Archer City, five of them devoted to books, about 400,000. At his home, he has a personal library of 28,000 volumes that began with his original nineteen books as a boy.
I’ve been there twice and have an appointment to go again in the near future with my wife and friends, Selden Hale and Claudia Stravato. I am interested in purchasing ethnography of Western America.
I met McMurtry once in Amarillo, Texas, where he lectured at the Amarillo Art Center back in the 1980s. I asked him what was the greatest novel ever written and he replied, “Anna Karenina.“ He is not fond of novels anymore, preferring non-fiction, especially travel journals of the late-nineteenth, twentieth century.
McMurtry has bought bookshops in bulk and one that he bought was Barber’s Book Store in Fort Worth, Texas. When I came to TCU in 1990, I asked about second-hand bookshops and was referred to Barber’s. It was downtown. (Last weekend when I was in Fort Worth, I saw that the sign for Barber’s was still erect over the closed shop.) The shop was quite large and had a good collection of Western Americana. I purchased several books, including a five or six-year collection of The New Mexico Historical Quarterly.