Thursday, April 19, 2012

Comanche Moon, Reservation Blues not up to the best from McMurtry, Alexie

Book 43: Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry

Book 46: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Book 50: Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

There nothing’s wrong with Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry and Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie. Both are well written novels with engaging characters.

And yet . . .

Neither is quite up to the best work by McMurtry or Alexie. Consequently, both novels are vaguely disappointing.

Comanche Moon is a prequel to Lonesome Dove, which is a great American novel.  Comanche Moon introduces Gus and Call during their tenure as Texas Rangers, before they have left Austin for Lonesome Dove.

Comanche Moon lacks the energy present in Lonesome Dove.  Perhaps, McMurtry was weary of the characters by the time he sat down to write this novel or it may simply demonstrate the dangers of trying to write a prequel to a novel of such power and scope as Lonesome Dove.

Reservation Blues is the story of Coyote Springs, initially a trio of young Spokane Indians who are trying to make a go of it in the music business. Modestly talented at best, the band is aided by the mystical influence of Robert Johnson’s guitar.

At his best, Alexie depends on humor and irony to capture the modern-day plight of the reservation Indian. There are traces of both here, but in limited supply. The novel is weighed down by an overdose of earnestness.

As for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it’s the third book in Rowling’s tremendously popular series of young wizards. People keep telling me that the books “get better.” I’m still waiting.

It’s not that I dislike the books. I don’t. But I’m not overly impressed either.

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