Last week I didn’t know whether to curse Larry McMurtry or send him a fan letter. I was supposed to writing my own novel, but I couldn’t stop reading his. In the end I had to scupper it by looking ahead to see what happened, so that I could stop reading it for long enough to do some work. Whoever would have thought I could have been so gripped by a book about cowboys? I know this won a Pullitzer Prize and was a very successful TV series, but I’d managed to avoid it so far. It’s over 900 pages long, yet I just wanted it to go on and on. It took me a little while to get into this story of two middle-aged Texas rangers and their crew driving a cattle herd from South Texas to Montana, but when I did . . . It soon became apparent when there was a death – a terrible one – as they crossed the first river, that they wouldn’t all make it and after that I was on tenterhooks. It was funny, touching, and I fell in love with Gus Macrae. Oddly enough the writer I was reminded of was Trollope or even Charlotte M Yonge’s family sagas! The Hat Creek outfit is a kind of family and this is a nineteenth century novel in its scope and length and narrative energy. The authorial voice, though never obtrusive, is humane and wise. I can see I am going to have to read STREETS OF LAREDO, but not just yet. One of the ironies of becoming a writer is that I don’t read as much fiction as I did, at least not when I am actually into a novel. I think that it’s because some of my hunger for narrative is being satisfied by my own work. But there also the danger of being infected by someone else’s style and, even worse, I find, being sucked into someone else’s fictional world and not being able to get back into your own. That’s especially the case when the fictional world is as fully and as vividly realised as the one in LONESOME DOVE.