Literary Hub

Greg Iles: In Praise of Larry McMurtry (Postmodernists, Not So Much)

Gre Iles most recent book, Mississippi Blood, concludes his Natchez Burning trilogy.

What was the first book you fell in love with?
Arty the Smarty by Faith McNulty. I was three or four years old when I read that, and it shaped me as a writer. It’s about a smart fish who thinks up myriad ways to avoid being hooked and to make a fool of the fisherman while the other fish he knows get caught.

Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read?
I’ve hardly read any postmodernists. As my friend Scott Turow says, they cost literature its audience. So maybe I don’t feel guilty about ignoring them.

What’s the book you reread the most?
The Honorable Schoolboy by John Le Carré. I think it’s the most underrated of the George Smiley books. Though it’s a British novel, it captures something of the moment when American power, and America’s image of itself on the world stage, began to go into decline. The personal story in it is Le Carré channeling Graham Greene.

Is there a book you wish you had written?
I wish I had written Lonesome Dove. It’s a tour de force of narrative and dialogue and insight into human nature, and had I written that, I would be a far greater writer than I currently am!

Originally published in Literary Hub.

Related Interests

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub1 min read
Rebecca Solnit on Writing a Liberated Cinderella
Rebecca Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator, her retelling of the classic fairytale for today’s kids, shows a new version of the story in which “nobody gets married, nobody becomes a princess, the prince needs liberation too.” Her goal was to portray “a re
Literary Hub5 min read
On Oliver Sacks’ Obsession With Weightlifting
When a writer talks about the sport they play, you can see something of how their mind works in how they have chosen to use their body. Hemingway’s frustrated fascination with machismo was written in bloodstains on the boxing and bullfighting rings.
Literary Hub8 min read
How Can We Stop the Air We Breathe from Slowly Poisoning Us?
A human breath begins in the deepest reaches of the brain, where—far beneath consciousness—the body’s most basic and essential functions are regulated. Just above the point where the spine meets the skull, tiny receptors detect rising levels of carbo