Read Some Can Whistle Online

Authors: Larry McMurtry

Some Can Whistle

Praise for
Some Can Whistle

“The constant delight of each of McMurtry’s books is the characters—warm, gutsy, humorous people, Westerners either by birth or inclination, the kind of people you wish you could meet because you know you’d love ’em.”

Boston Herald

“Larry McMurtry, who won a Pulitzer Prize for
Lonesome Dove
, again rides high. . . . McMurtry studs his picaresque novels with some of the least likely people ever brought to a page, pumping winning vitality into most of them. . . .
Some Can Whistle
ripples with simple ironies and comedic asides on modern life. . . . Its characters are affecting. And the hoops, swoops, and loops of its plot are fun.”


“A cast of quirky, yet realistic characters, of which the women are especially strong and memorable . . . moments of laugh-out-loud comedy, followed by scenes of pathos . . . Best of all, its prose is up to the author’s usual high standards, comfortable as a hammock on a lazy summer afternoon. The dialogue is especially tart and revealing, humorous without being jokey or self-conscious. . . .
Some Can Whistle
is a book of enormous charm and feeling. . . . McMurtry’s latest delivers its fair share of pleasures.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“As in
Terms of Endearment
Lonesome Dove
, there is a sweet sadness that hovers like a dust cloud. . . . In
Some Can Whistle
, violence and black humor bump up against each other like cowboys in a roadhouse. . . . Mr. McMurtry remains a master at chronicling the joys and sorrows of family.”

The Atlanta Constitution

“The love-hate interaction is as eloquently drawn as in
Terms of Endearment
. . . . Emotions erupt and broaden, and lives expand as the story narrows to its wrenching climax. . . .
Some Can Whistle
sings with poignancy.”

The Buffalo News

“As tinged with tragedy as it is raucously comic . . . McMurtry brings his characters so clearly to life, paints them with such energy and insight . . . that one comes upon a character’s fate with a physical jolt to the heart. This is particularly true of
Some Can Whistle
. . . . The story . . . unfolds with force and emotional power, possessing the same allegiance to the truth of experience that we have grown accustomed to in the work of this wonderful storyteller. One doesn’t read McMurtry’s novels as much as one is lured by their deceptively simple magic into inhabiting them.”

The Washington Post

Some Can Whistle
is the kind of inspired performance we’ve come to expect, as a matter of course, from Larry McMurtry. . . . If there is a writer in America who can tell a better story or create characters with more depth and resonance, a writer who disappoints less frequently, no one comes to mind. . . .
Some Can Whistle
is warm, rich, taut, compassionate, and it is thoroughly entertaining. It is Larry McMurtry doing what he seems to do so often and so effortlessly.”

Arizona Daily Star

Some Can Whistle
, McMurtry somehow inhabits both the city and the plain. . . . The novel succeeds in occupying both places. That is what gives it its uniquely amusing yet wistful flavor.”

The New York Times

“A contemporary tour de farce . . .
Some Can Whistle
is a salaciously entertaining read, thanks in no small part to McMurtry’s scandalous observations about the Hollywood scene, and the equally scandalous wealth of semi-autobiographical detail. . . . McMurtry is a uniquely talented . . . writer.”


“The vivid and easy narrative flow and the handling of characters, theme, and structure that marked
Lonesome Dove
Anything for Billy
all return in
Some Can Whistle
. . . . McMurtry’s fiction has never been truer.”

San Antonio Express-News

“Vintage McMurtry . . . in its familiar and outrageous characters, its sudden plot twists, and its mixture of broad and black comedy . . .
Some Can Whistle
is, finally, a deeply moving book as well.”

The Houston Post

“Like most of McMurtry’s women characters, T.R. glows with toughness, independence, lust, and a strong will. . . . McMurtry makes his Texas characters and Texas places so quirky and real and unforgettable. . . . His characters not only grow
you; they also grow

St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Sin Killer
Boone’s Lick
Roads: Driving America’s Greatest Highways
Still Wild: Short Fiction of the American West 1950 to the Present
Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen
Duane’s Depressed
Crazy Horse
Comanche Moon
Dead Man’s Walk
The Late Child
Streets of Laredo
The Evening Star
Buffalo Girls
Some Can Whistle
Anything for Billy
Film Flam: Essays on Hollywood
Lonesome Dove
The Desert Rose
Cadillac Jack
Somebody’s Darling
Terms of Endearment
All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers
Moving On
The Last Picture Show
In a Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas
Leaving Cheyenne
Horseman, Pass By


Pretty Boy Floyd
Zeke and Ned



Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 1989 by Larry McMurtry All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

First Simon & Schuster paperback edition 2004

& S
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases, pleas contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or [email protected]

Designed by Colin Joh

Manufactured in the United States of America

3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:
McMurtry, Larry.
Some can whistle : a novel / Larry McMurtry.
p. cm.
1. Thalia (Tex: Imaginary place)—Fiction. 2. Fathers and daughters—
Fiction. 3. Television writers—Fiction. 4. Texas—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3563.A319 S58 1989
813’.54–dc20 89-021665
  ISBN: 0-671-64267-7
  eISBN 978-1-4391-2988-3
                       0-7432-3016-7 (Pbk.)

For Jeanie



“Mister Deck, are you my stinkin’ Daddy?” a youthful, female, furious voice said into the phone.

I could not have been more startled if I had looked up into the blue Texas sky and seen a nuclear bomb on its way down. I was on my south patio, having breakfast with Godwin, watching the fine peachy light of an early summer morning spread over the prairies; I had assumed the call was from my agent, who was in Paris and would soon be swimming up the time zones, hoping to spawn a few deals.

“I don’t think I stink,” I said politely. The remark caused Godwin to look up from his Cheerios.

“Stinkin’s what I call it, never speaking to me in my whole life and leavin’ me down here with two babies, only gettin’ minimum wage,” the young voice said, even angrier. “I seen it in
that you’re the richest writer in the world. Is that the truth or is that a lie?”

“I probably am among the richest but I’m not exactly a writer,” I said, even more politely.

The profuse ambiguities of my career held no interest for the blazing young person on the other end of the phone.

“I don’t give that much of a shit what you are exactly,” she said. “If you’re rich and I’m workin’ in this Mr. Burger supportin’ two babies, then I hope Jesus puts you right where you belong, which is in hell.”

I heard the wail of an infant, and she hung up.


Godwin had been patiently watching his last six Cheerios float around in their milk. In his old age he had acquired mystic pretensions; he claimed to see things in the float patterns of Cheerios. Some days he would rattle off to Dallas in his ancient Volkswagen, where he would procure exotic milks (goat, camel—even, he claimed, yak) to float the Cheerios in.

The phone rang again. The previous call had been so brief,
violent, and surreal that I almost felt I had dreamed it. Here was another chance; the morning might yet veer onto a normal course. Probably my agent had just finished his lunch at one of the internationally prominent watering holes he favored, in which case he might now have our European syndication in his pocket.

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