McMurtry returns again to the seminal moment in his life, when a cousin gave him a box of nineteen books – those books, or at least the moment – are featured as well in his Walter Benjamin at The Dairy Queen. Therein lies the problem with this memoir. Much of the ground covered here was covered – only much, much better, in his earlier book. Nine years later he writes this memoir. And I’d say he had forgotten he’d written the earlier book, if he didn’t refer to it so often (‘as I said in WBATDQ’). I have to wonder what the need/purpose for this book was.
Because I loved the earlier book so much, I was hugely disappointed in this one. You may – may- relate to it if you’re a book collector, antiquarian buyer/seller. If you’re primarily a reader, I’d not recommend it at all. I think that LM somewhere says that he doesn’t want the book to be of a narrowed focus – but that’s exactly what he gives us.
It’s sloppy and anecdotal and disjointed, with no coherence at all. Each chapter (and they are very, very short) stops abruptly, and with few exceptions, the next chapter starts with no apparent connection the the previous one. Rambling.
Sad to say, but LM may have come to the very end of his writing powers.