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Larry McMurtry boasted impeccable Texas bona fides: his paternal grandparents had arrived in the state in the 1870s and entered the cattle business during its open-range heyday. But despite these bloodlines, McMurtry showed neither aptitude nor affection for the hard work of ranching. When he was three, his father, known as Jeff Mac, gave him his first pony, which, Tracy Daugherty writes in Larry McMurtry: A Life (St. Martin’s Press, September 12), “he promptly rode into a swarm of yellow jackets in a mesquite thicket, getting stung twelve times.” He didn’t fare much better on his inaugural cattle drive the next year. What’s more, he was skinny, his eyesight was poor, and his manner was excessively mild. As Daugherty notes, “It was clear to Jeff…
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