out of 5
Review by Steve
An historical fiction account of the period after the Wild West has passed its hay day that centers around the character of Calamity Jane. While Calamity is the central character, the novel is as much about Dora DuFran, T. Blue Abbott, Buffalo Bill Cody, and fictional(?) Bartle Bone, Jim Ragg, No Ears, and others, both real and fictional, as it is about Calamity Jane. All the characters struggle in different ways to come to grips with the increasingly settled Wild West, trying to find ways of making a living when their particular skills are increasingly obsolete, and trying to understand and rationalize their own part in the West's history. No Ears, the diminutive, elderly Indian character provides the reflective, philosophical narrator voice that provides much insight into the characters and the times. McMurtry also underscores how these legends, this Western "history," is as much tale as fact through the characters' reflections on the truth of their own and others legendary accomplishments, and directly summarizes this in his very last afterwords to the novel in which he compliments the shades of his many characters "whose stories outgrew their lives." Yet another underscoring of how blurry is the line between historical fact and fiction. An enjoyable read.