The Last Kind Words Saloon (Larry McMurtry) - Liveright Publishing Corporation - 2014 - 196 pages

McMurtry's writing is as close to perfect prose as any you will read.  This slim novel can easily be read in one sitting.  McMurtry's dialog reflects the brevity of speech of the times as well as the general disregard for proper grammar.  This is a work of fiction so many of the ancillary characters have been merged for simplification.  Wyatt Earp's two common law wives (Mattie and Josie) are combined into one person who McMurtry calls "Jessie".  Women in the Old West were commonly considered to be bystanders and witnesses to the action so that McMurtry's error is probably intentional.  In addition, McMurtry drops older brother James Earp and assigns his saloon-duties to younger brother Warren Earp.  The Earp brothers (and friend - Frontier Dentist Doc Holliday) were not nice people but were somewhat cleaner and more lawful than the outlaw Clantons and their ilk.  While brothers Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp worked as lawmen, Wyatt was mainly a gambler and saloon-rat who made his living by working as little as possible.  The truth about who killed Old Man Clanton in 1881 and later, Johnny Ringo may never be known but Wyatt out-lived them all so it is his account of events that became legend.  Certainly, the fact that the Earps and Holliday shot dead three of the cowboys that day in Tombstone, Arizona is well-established.  What happened before and after the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is still drifting with the sands of the great plains.  McMurtry's account of events is as entertaining as any as he follows the Earps from Long Grass (which might have been in Texas) to Denver to Mobetie (with various spellings) and then, Tombstone.  [JAM 7/5/2014]