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The Last Picture Show, By Larry McMurtry

Lights, camera - and gentle, comic action

Larry McMurtry's 1966 novel The Last Picture Show has long been overshadowed by Peter Bogdanovich's much lauded film adaptation.

But, as this new Penguin edition allows the reader to discover, the movie is successful only to the extent that it captures the gentle comedy and elegiac tone of its source material. Set in 1951, the novel is a satire, of sorts – a sharply observed portrayal of the monotony and insularity of life in Thalia, the small Texan town in which the author grew up. But it is, too, a deeply affectionate book, and its likeable protagonists, from the pool-hall king Sam the Lion to the teenage temptress Jacy, are deftly drawn.