Ballad of Gussie and Clyde

Overview

It was about five years ago that Clyde Latham, a retired high school football coach in Spur, Texas, lost his wife of fifty years. He was alone, and lonely, until Gussie Lancaster arrived from California. She was widowed and, a lifetime earlier, had befriended Clyde, practically grown up beside him. When Gussie arrived at the airport, Clyde didn't recognize her. Still, they fell in love. These two proud octogenarians, acting like teenagers. Madly. Deeply. With an almost adolescent desire for the companionship, ...
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Overview

It was about five years ago that Clyde Latham, a retired high school football coach in Spur, Texas, lost his wife of fifty years. He was alone, and lonely, until Gussie Lancaster arrived from California. She was widowed and, a lifetime earlier, had befriended Clyde, practically grown up beside him. When Gussie arrived at the airport, Clyde didn't recognize her. Still, they fell in love. These two proud octogenarians, acting like teenagers. Madly. Deeply. With an almost adolescent desire for the companionship, support, and magic only romance can bring. In The Ballad of Gussie & Clyde, Clyde's son Aaron Latham describes this extraordinary flowering, using his skill as a storyteller (he's the author of Urban Cowboy) and his affection as a son. For not only did Gussie and Clyde's union rekindle their lives, it also altered the texture of Aaron's relationship with his own family.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It is a feat to turn a family story into a narrative with significance for the world at large. Latham meets that challenge head-on here, retelling the tale of his 84-year-old widowed father, Clyde, and his romance with Gussie, an 81-year-old he hadn't seen since childhood. The result is a sweet but slight book. Latham (Urban Cowboy) is an accomplished novelist, but here he is trying so hard the strain shows. The story is broken up with quotations from metaphysical poets; references to his wife, Lesley Stahl, of "60 Minutes" fame, are judiciously scattered throughout; and Latham can't resist using his father's story to inventory his own life and emotions. Gussie gives up her familiar life in California to return to Clyde's town of Spur, Texas -- population "1,800 and shrinking." The romance of Gussie and Clyde is powerful and moving in its own right, especially when put to the test by the inevitable ravages of ill health and modern medicine. But the implication that we should marvel at rewarding and passionate relationships between those in their 80s is troubling. (June)
Library Journal
In this celebration of life, New York writer Latham, a novelist and author of the screenplay Urban Cowboy, relates the charming story of how his father, Clyde, found love at age 84. When his mother died after more than 50 years of marriage, Latham worried about his father's being lonely. Alone, but not lonely, Clyde renewed a childhood friendship with recently widowed Gussie (age 81) whom he had not seen in decades. The romance is set in the town of Spur, located in "a godforsaken corner of west Texas," where "some days more tumbleweeds than pickup trucks come rolling through town." However, neither the town of Spur nor his father is willing to give up on life. Even with the son's concern for his father and the problems that arose when Clyde became ill, it is, as Clyde says, "a pretty old world." A beautifully written memoir; highly recommended for all readers.Linda L. McEwan, Elgin Community Coll., Ill.
Kirkus Reviews
A son's affectionate but sketchy little memoir of the bittersweet romance between his octogenarian father, Clyde, and Gussie, a widow of similar years.

Latham, a New York journalist (Rolling Stone, Esquire) and screenwriter (Urban Cowboy, etc.) became concerned when his newly widowed father back in the tiny west Texas town of Spur began to develop a long-distance telephone relationship with a former childhood friend living in California. After numerous broken promises to come back to Spur for a brief visit, Gussie eventually made the trip, and the telephone romance quickly flowered into an engagement. Latham, in plain, rather flat prose, shows the old couple revisting childhood scenes, getting reacquainted, and even necking in a parked car like a couple of teenagers. When Gussie returned to California, Clyde followed her the next day, and a week later the impetuous couple was married. Harboring major reservations about his father's whirlwind romance, Latham, accompanied by his wife, 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl, flew out to meet his new stepmother and discovered that Gussie's family tree was entwined with his father's in a surprising way. A few months later, Clyde became dangerously ill, had one leg amputated, and underwent abdominal surgery. In the book's final chapter, the honeymoon may be over, but love persists. The last image Latham gives us is a tender one: the two old newlyweds "sitting side by side in their recliners, fast asleep, smiling, holding hands." Of such images are television movies-of-the-week made. The message that love knows no age barriers would be perfect around Valentine's Day, and actors might bring some life to Latham's two-dimensional characters.

Wait for the screen version.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517312643
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998

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