Personal Libraries

09.05.13

Larry McMurtry: May the Books Flourish!

For writer Larry McMurtry, auctioning off part of his vast book collection was bittersweet, but they are off on a new adventure in the hands of new readers. He writes to urge readers to support a film on Kickstarter documenting this remarkable sale.

Art of various kinds is often expensive, and filmmaking especially so. Thousands of gifted filmmakers, young and old, have waited hat in hand at the studio gates, only to be turned away with nothing.

That’s why Kickstarter and like organizations—which secure funding through donations from people with an interest in art-to-be—are a healthy and adventurous way to go. Let the studios eat cake, as a famous lady once said.

Writing prose, on the other hand, is a solitary endeavor (unless one has a fine writing partner, as do I). And as such, it’s not very expensive. Paper, a typewriter, and a place to write is all I needed; that is, until I was given a laptop computer.

I came to the world of computers at least 20 years late, thus missing whole generations of pods, tablets, and the like, which is too bad. Diana Ossana, my writing partner and close friend, purchased a MacBook for me recently, at my request. I let it sit for six months and then made a cautious approach to the keyboard, as one might approach a wary woman. I respect it greatly, and though I work at it every day, we are not yet on familiar terms. But maybe, if time allows, I’ll improve.

At present, the fledgling artistic project nearest to my heart is a worthy one called Books, a Documentary, a film about my own passion for books, a passion that led me to create a book town in my home place of Archer City, Texas.

At its peak, my book town harbored between 500,000 and 600,000 volumes, not counting my own 28,000-volume personal library. I love my books, all of them. Holding them in my hands, leafing through the pages, is a comfort to me. But this is a lot of books: my son and grandson might not be so inclined as to simply sit and appreciate their presence.

Video screenshot

Watch the 'Books' Kickstarter video.

It’s been a bittersweet experience for me, parting with my beloved stock, but they’ve been given a second life, on bookshelves and in storefronts all across America.

So, I held an auction in Archer City over three scorching summer days in August 2012 to reduce the burden of books that might be left to my heirs, should I depart before my inventory does. I managed, during said auction, to launch two thirds of said inventory back out into the world, all taking up residence with new and enthusiastic owners. The adventures of those books will be documented, should the smart young filmmakers have their way.

It’s been a bittersweet experience for me, parting with my beloved stock, but they’ve been given a second life, on bookshelves and in storefronts all across America.

The filmmakers are my goddaughter Sara Ossana and her husband Mathew Provost.

May they—and the books—flourish!

Support Books by becoming a backer.