Bookmarks Issue: 

A-LoppGroupDid you hear the one about two older women who hopped in a car … yep, it’s exactly what you think. Pulitzer Prize-winner McMurtry (Lonesome Dove) turns his hand to a chic lit style, using the common plot twist of sending two old friends on the road in an attempt to run from their problems and find themselves—with their children’s encouragement, of course. But when you own a Hollywood "loop group" dubbing company, what’s normal and what’s not is unclear, at best. This novel is also filled with vagrants, Hopi Indians, cardsharps, and a cranky Aunt Cooney and her gulag, a home to two million chickens. New life perspectives and do-overs are a given.
Simon & Schuster. 256 pages. $25. ISBN: 0743250796

Baltimore Sun 3 of 5 Stars
"Loop Group is a shaggy dog story, broadly comic and shoehorned with funny but often implausible scenarios." Christopher Corbett

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, the sheer richness of his palette winds up winning you over. This book, his 36th and counting (and his second this year), contains enough of his trademark quirky humor and sharp character delineation to make the occasionally bumpy ride worth taking." Peter Lefcourt

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3 of 5 Stars
"McMurtry seems to know more about women than do I. He certainly raised my eyebrows in Loop Group with some of Maggie’s sexual musings … but women whose judgment I trust assure me that, by and large, McMurtry gets it right." Harry Levins

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 2 of 5 Stars
"Eventually Maggie and Connie regain some sort of stability and happiness. But it doesn’t seem to be related to anything that’s happened to them on their journey." Curt Schleier

New York Times 2 of 5 Stars
"What’s that sound? It’s the swoosh of all but Mr. McMurtry’s most dedicated readers as they get wind of this premise and head for the hills." Janet Maslin

USA Today 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Let’s hope Larry McMurtry’s latest novel, the uninspired and seemingly dashed-off Loop Group, is just a hiccup in the Pulitzer Prize winner’s career." Stephen Lyons

San Diego Union-Tribune 1 of 5 Stars
"It reads like a treatment for a script. One wonders what McMurtry was thinking. … If it weren’t you, this book would be in a far corner on the ‘chick lit’ remainder table." Jackie Jones

Critical Summary

Oddball characters aren’t necessarily a death knell to a novel, particularly when they come from McMurtry’s pen. In Loop Group, his sheer wealth of personalities, which encompasses everyone from sons-in-law to a local trooper who walks into the story only for a line or two, continues to entertain. But critics weren’t moved by what they saw as unrealistic dialogue, hackneyed characters, and a tired and predictable plot riddled with inaccuracies that don’t reflect modern Hollywood. In the end, readers crave an answer to life that goes deeper than a trip to Nordstrom’s, and they expect wiser council from the 60-something bunch.

Better Chick Lit

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift | Elinor Lipman (2003): 4 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2003. A wallflower blooms and she shakes her Mr. Wrong.

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons | Lorna Landvik (2003): 4 of 5 Stars May/June 2003. Women and their book club through three decades.