Posse McMillan: More on Crumley, with Ralph Beer SPOILER

Doing some catch-up on stuff I have contemplated posting:

Early this year I surfed across a fine memoir of James Crumley by a writer pal of his named Ralph Beer — very nice, even includes photos of some of Crumley’s favorite hangouts, such as the Missoula Club.

When I finally got to Missoula I tracked down that dive bar and others (by instinct or sheer luck having dinner the first night in The Depot, much more upscale, but they keep a bar stool empty in Crumley’s memory). The Missoula Club isn’t much, just a little bar and a grill in back for burgers and hotdogs — not much, but still great.

Dennis McMillan once told me about a more sophisticated West Coast bookseller visiting Crumley in Missoula. No doubt for fun, Crumley took him to the Missoula Club — where the sophisticate asked to see their wine list!

Yeah, right. What would have been on it? Budweiser and Moose Drool?

I sent Dennis the URL for the Beer memoir, which he hadn’t seen, and it kicked off this comment:

Ralph Beer wrote one of the most depressing novels I’ve ever read — The Lost Corral (or was it The Last Corral?) — which has one totally incongruous chapter in the middle of it, featuring a thinly-disguised Crumley, Neal McMahon, and Crumley’s dog, Bean, as a small person.

It’s hilarious, and the reader is totally taken aback by it (or so I would assume — I was warned beforehand about the chapter, so I was expecting it). Beer is a very good writer, indeed, from that one novel, but it truly depressed me, I must say, and I can say that about very few books, really.

The novel Dennis is referencing is The Blind Corral, if you want to add it to your extended Crumley collection.

And as another member in good standing of Posse McMillanCharles Willeford — once said, All great literature is depressing.

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