Books: After The Last Picture Show TEXASVILLE

by Larry McMurtry; Simon & Schuster; 542 pages; $18.95

( You can tell right off when a novelist knows his way around the block. Take the first sentence of Larry McMurtry's moody, sensitive, ironic yet lightheartedly despairing new novel: "Duane was in the hot tub, shooting at his new doghouse with a .44 Magnum." The Jamesian restraint of the language -- not "Blam, blam, blam, wood chips glinted in the dusty air," but a dreamlike, almost passive kind of doghouse blasting -- foreshadows subtle stuff. The hero, we sense, is a country boy (the name Duane, and the implication that there is enough vacant acreage behind the doghouse so that...

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