Pondering What I’ve Read
by Joni Abilene
A few weeks ago I finished The Last Picture Show, which I had previously attempted but with too many life interruptions. This time, no interruptions, and I delved right into the story. If you’ve ever read it you know exactly what I mean when I say parts of it were disturbing, but disturbing because of the honesty. The book is about a small town, but more than that, sex. Everything is sex. I’m no stranger to writing about it, but I have to say McMurtry didn’t dodge any part of the subject. Sometimes it left me open-mouthed, and other times I was sick to my stomach, forced to put the book down.
Being from Kansas, I’ve heard stories hinting at possible man-to-animal interaction. That’s all I’ll say. It was horrible to read. I’ll admit, I had to skim over that part. Later I understood the author’s intentions. He managed to separate Sonny from the rest of the boys by showing he had a good head and heart. Some people would retract that opinion when he goes off and has an affair with the coach’s wife, but at the same time she needed mercy, and he provided it.
Then there’s Jacy, who doesn’t want to be like her mother, but can’t help it. Her sexual progress was truthful and sad. I wanted her to escape the same cloth of womanhood, but it wrapped around her because she had inherited a similar, dangerous, beauty.
It’s a difficult book to read. I grew up in a small town and know the suffocating, watched feeling. The same people who have your back, are wielding invisible knives. They go to church and say prayers—they pray for you—but they don’t want to know you or love you. And in the end, their religious perversion is almost the same as any kind.
In The Last Picture Show you sense the hollowness of being part of something decayed long before it could understand itself. It’s an important book.
So now I’ve moved on to Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Bukowski’s Post Office. Two completely different books, but they’re keeping me entertained.