Oklahomans, in fact, might be interested in the fact that Telegraph Days begins along the Cimarron River out in the panhandle. The Courtrights, Virginia emigrants, have a broken-down ranch near Black Mesa and the fictional town of Rita Blanca.
But the novel soon moves to such legendary locations as Dodge City and Tombstone, as Nellie meets many of the famous characters of the West. These include Buffalo Bill, the Earp brothers, and Billy the Kid.
In McMurtry's story, the talented Nellie Courtright is the link between all of these people and places, giving the reader an exciting and panoramic view of the late nineteenth-century American West.
Some of this tale is a bit unlikely, of course, and we wish McMurtry had slowed down the narrative in places, letting us sweat and scratch a little longer in the hot, dusty streets of Rita Blanca and Dodge City.
Still, Telegraph Days will please a lot of McMurtry fans, and Nellie Courtright is one of McMurtry's most memorable characters.
UPDATE: Speaking of McMurtry, we attended the Book Smart Tulsa event last night at the Philbrook, where novelist Rivka Galchen talked about her writing. Galchen, who grew up in Norman, mentioned the German writer Walter Benjamin in her talk.
We haven't read much of Benjamin's work, but her reference did remind us of McMurtry's Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, which we read some years back. This book, a reflective, intellectual memoir, is our favorite book of McMurtry nonfiction. It's well worth reading (or, in our case, re-reading).