Texasville [NOOK Book]


With Texasville, Larry McMurtry returns to the unforgettable Texas town and characters of one of his best-loved books, The Last Picture Show. This is a Texas-sized story brimming with home truths of the heart, and men and women we recognize, believe in, and care about deeply. Set in the post-oil-boom 1980s, Texasville brings us up to date with Duane, who's got an adoring dog, a sassy wife, a twelve-million-dollar debt, and a hot tub by the pool; Jacy, who's finished playing "Jungla" in Italian movies and who's ...
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With Texasville, Larry McMurtry returns to the unforgettable Texas town and characters of one of his best-loved books, The Last Picture Show. This is a Texas-sized story brimming with home truths of the heart, and men and women we recognize, believe in, and care about deeply. Set in the post-oil-boom 1980s, Texasville brings us up to date with Duane, who's got an adoring dog, a sassy wife, a twelve-million-dollar debt, and a hot tub by the pool; Jacy, who's finished playing "Jungla" in Italian movies and who's returned to Thalia; and Sonny -- Duane's teenage rival for Jacy's affections -- who owns the car wash, the Kwik-Sackstore, and the video arcade.
One of Larry McMurtry's funniest and most touching contemporary novels.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this arresting, funny-sad sequel to The Last Picture Show, McMurtry's small Texas town of Thalia has gone from boom to bust practically overnight, a victim of the mid-'80s oil glut. Under the strain of financial calamity, the townsfolk are becoming increasingly irrationalone man dreams of bombing OPEC, the mayor is going quietly mad, sexual mores are turning bizarre, and the civic leaders are pressing on with a centennial celebration even though there's nothing to celebrate. The stresses of the time seem concentrated in Duane, a one-time oil millionaire on the verge of bankruptcy who has four untamable children, a disaffected wife and a diminishing grip on his sanity. Duane's problems are exacerbated when his high school sweetheart, Jacy, now a movie actress, comes bowling into town like tumbleweed. McMurtry, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, is a writer with a distinctive voice, a profound understanding of Texans and a brilliant gift for capturing the vagrant moods of the heart. Major ad/promo; reprint rights to Pocket Books; BOMC selection. (April)
Library Journal
Can a novel that deals with midlife crises, the loss of youthful aspirations, the withering of love, and the entombing of dreams be side-splittingly funny? This one is. Pulitzer Prize winner McMurtry returns to Thalia, Texas, setting of The Last Picture Show , where the once lovelorn teenagers are now town fathers planning a county centennial celebration. But what's there to celebrate? The town got rich with the oil boom and is now going broke with the oil glut, and its residents seem as sunk in emotional depression as the town is in its economic one. What McMurtry's characters take most seriously and worry most about inevitably turns out comically. The unplanned high points of the celebration are a tumbleweed stampede, broom-handle battles between teetotalers and beer-guzzlers, and an egg bombardment. For some this may seem a less than satisfying sequel to The Last Picture Show , but it is a more mature book, less angry, more tolerant, and more accepting of human foibles. Recommended. BOMC main selection. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Library, Randolph, Mass.
Louise Erdich
Unrestrained humor...McMurtry doesn't ask us to feel sorry for his characters, but to laugh at their crude one-liners and to be appalled at, and yet admiring of, the raw, material decadance. The individual scenes are sharp, spare, full of long-horned humor and color....Texasville is filled with local idioms, tall stories, and unabashed one-liners...
— The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
The New York Times Texasville shows off at his popular storytelling best.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer Larry McMurtry is the most entertaining novelist in America.

San Francisco Chronicle A raucous farce and coming-of-age without growing up...

The Washington Post Texasville crackles with energy, humor, and passion.

New York Post As Texasville unfolds, sentences practically tumble over one another in a race for laughs....McMurtry is hot after a seriocomic study of a man trying to find mental balance in a Texas of which he observes, "Seems to me it's so glorious it's just about driven us all crazy."...There are plenty of eye-catching roadside sights to enjoy along the route.

The Wall Street Journal Mr. McMurtry's town, Thalia, is glutted with bed hoppers, maniacs, juvenile delinquents, stupid pets, suicidal bankers, and war mongering OPEC bashers — all brought to peaks of comic energy....Madness reigns and it is quite amusing.

Liz Smith New York Daily News Texasville is just as funny as can be. Such a kick to read that I predict its popularity may well outstrip Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winner, Lonesome Dove.

The Philadelphia Inquirer Texasville is simply great.

United Press International With Texasville, McMurtry has written an ideal sequel. The characters from The Last Picture Show have grown deeper, wiser, and more interesting, just as McMurtry's writing has done.

The Washington Post Texasville is a big ol' mess of a book: long, haphazardly plotted, exuberant, populous, good-spirited...the sexual activity is vigorous and varied and described with considerable relish...the novel's intelligence and its compassion are what really matter, and in this, Texasville is of a piece with all of McMurtry's best work.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451607680
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 167,403
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.


Back in the late 60s, the fact that Larry McMurtry was not a household name was really a thorn in the side of the writer. To illustrate his dissatisfaction with his status, he would go around wearing a T-shirt that read "Minor Regional Novelist." Well, more than thirty books, two Oscar-winning screenplays, and a Pulitzer Prize later, McMurtry is anything but a minor regional novelist.

Having worked on his father's Texas cattle ranch for a great deal of his early life, McMurtry had an inborn fascination with the West, both its fabled history and current state. However, he never saw himself as a life-long rancher and aspired to a more creative career. He achieved this at the age of 25 when he published his first novel. Horseman, Pass By was a wholly original take on the classic western. Humorous, heartbreaking, and utterly human, this story of a hedonistic cowboy in contemporary Texas was a huge hit for the young author and even spawned a major motion picture starring Paul Newman called Hud just two years after its 1961 publication. Extraordinarily, McMurtry was even allowed to write the script, a rare honor for such a novice.

With such an auspicious debut, it is hard to believe that McMurtry ever felt as though he'd been slighted by the public or marginalized as a minor talent. While all of his books may not have received equal attention, he did have a number of astounding successes early in his career. His third novel The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age-in-the-southwest story, became a genuine classic, drawing comparisons to J. D. Salinger and James Jones. In 1971, Peter Bogdonovich's screen adaptation of the novel would score McMurtry his first Academy award for his screenplay. Three years later, he published Terms of Endearment, a critically lauded urban family drama that would become a hit movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in 1985.

That year, McMurtry published what many believe to be his definitive novel. An expansive epic sweeping through all the legends and characters that inhabited the old west, Lonesome Dove was a masterpiece. All of the elements that made McMurtry's writing so distinguished -- his skillful dialogue, richly drawn characters, and uncanny ability to establish a fully-realized setting -- convened in this Pulitzer winning story of two retired Texas rangers who venture from Texas to Montana. The novel was a tremendous critical and commercial favorite, and became a popular miniseries in 1989.

Following the massive success of Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry's prolificacy grew. He would publish at least one book nearly every year for the next twenty years, including Texasville, a gut-wrenching yet hilarious sequel to The Last Picture Show, Buffalo Girls, a fictionalized account of the later days of Calamity Jane, and several non-fiction titles, such as Crazy Horse.

Interestingly, McMurtry would receive his greatest notoriety in his late 60s as the co-screenwriter of Ang Lee's controversial film Brokeback Mountain. The movie would score the writer another Oscar and become one of the most critically heralded films of 2005. The following year he published his latest novel. Telegraph Days is a freewheeling comedic run-through of western folklore and surely one of McMurtry's most inventive stories and enjoyable reads. Not bad for a "minor regional novelist."

Good To Know

A miniseries based on McMurtry's novel Comanche Moon is currently in production. McMurtry co-wrote the script.

The first-printing of McMurtry's novel In a Narrow Grave is one of his most obscure for a rather obscure reason. The book was withdrawn because the word "skyscrapers" was misspelled as "skycrappers" on page 105.

McMurtry comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers. His father and eight of his uncles were all in the profession.

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    1. Hometown:
      Archer City, Texas
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 3, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita Falls, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Duane was in the hot tub, shooting at his new doghouse with a .44 Magnum. The two-story log doghouse was supposedly a replica of a frontier fort. He and Karla had bought it at a home show in Fort Worth on a day when they were bored. It would have housed several Great Danes comfortably, but so far had housed nothing. Shorty, the only dog Duane could put up with, never went near it.
Every time a slug hit the doghouse, slivers of white wood flew. The yard of the Moores' new mansion had just been seeded, at enormous expense, but the grass had a tentative look. The house stood on a long, narrow, rocky bluff, overlooking a valley pockmarked with well sites, saltwater pits and oily little roads leading from one oil pump to the next. The bluff was not a very likely place to grow Bermuda grass, but six acres of it had been planted anyway. Karla took the view that you could make anything happen if you spent enough money.
Duane had even less confidence in the Bermuda grass than the grass had in itself, but he signed the check, just as he had signed the check for the doghouse he was slowly reducing to kindling. For a time, buying things he had no earthly use for had almost convinced him he was still rich, but that trick had finally stopped working.
Shorty, a Queensland blue heeler, blinked every time the gun roared. Unlike Duane, he was not wearing shooter's earmuffs. Shorty loved Duane so much that he stuck by his side throughout the day, even at the risk of becoming hearing impaired.
Shorty had the eyes of a drunkard -- red-streaked and vacant. Julie and Jack, the eleven-year-old twins, threw rocks at him when their father wasn't around. They were both good athletes and hit Shorty frequently with the rocks, but Shorty didn't mind. He thought it meant they loved him.
Karla, Duane's beautiful, long-legged wife, came out of the house, a mug of coffee in her hand, and started walking across the long yard to the deck. It was a clear spring morning; she had already put in an hour in the garden. Her tomatoes were under threat from the blister bugs.
When he saw Karla coming, Duane took off the earmuffs. It annoyed her severely if he kept them on while she was complaining.
"Now you're ruining that brand-new doghouse, Duane," she said, sitting down on the deck. "I guess I'm trapped out here in the country with a man that's going crazy. I'm glad we sent the twins off to camp."
"They'll probably get kicked out in a day or two," Duane said. "They'll commit incest or something."
"No, it's a church camp," Karla said. "They'll just pray for their horrible little souls."
They were quiet for a minute. Though it was only seven in the morning, the temperature was close to ninety.
"You can die if you stay in a hot tub too long," Karla remarked. "I read it in USA Today."
They heard screams from the distant house. They came from Little Mike, Nellie's terrible two. In a moment the baby joined in.
"Nellie may not even hear them," Karla said. "She's probably got her Walkman on."
Nellie, nineteen, had just moved out on her third husband.
She liked getting married, but regarded the arrangement as little more binding than a handshake.
Karla wore a T-shirt with a motto stenciled on the front. The motto said, YOU'RE THE REASON OUR CHILDREN ARE UGLY, which was the title of a song sung by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. Karla laughed every time she heard the song.
She had thirty or forty T-shirts with lines from hillbilly songs printed on them. Every time she heard a lyric which seemed to her to express an important truth, she had a T-shirt printed. Occasionally she took the liberty of altering a line in some clever way, though no one around Thalia seemed to notice.
Duane had once pointed out to her that their children weren't ugly.
"They got personalities like wild dogs, but at least they're good-looking," he said.
"That's true, they take after me," Karla said. Her complexion was the envy of every woman she knew. Karla's skin was like cream with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on it.
Dickie, their twenty-one-year-old son, had been voted Most Handsome Boy in Thalia High School, both his junior and senior years. Nellie had been Most Beautiful Girl her sophomore year, but had lost out the next two years thanks to widespread envy among the voters. Jack and Julie were the best-looking twins in Texas, so far as anyone knew. Dickie made most of his living peddling marijuana, and Nellie -- with three marriages in a year and a half -- would probably pass Elizabeth Taylor on the marriage charts before she was twenty-one, but no one could deny that they were good-looking kids.
Karla, at forty-six, remained optimistic enough to believe almost everything she saw printed on a T-shirt. Duane was more skeptical. He had started poor, become rich, and now was losing money so rapidly that he had come to doubt that much of anything was true, in any sense. He had eight hundred and fifty dollars in the bank and debts of roughly twelve million, a situation that was becoming increasingly untenable.
Duane twirled the chamber of the .44. His hand ached a little. The big gun had a kick.
"You know what I hate worse than anything in the world?" Karla asked.
"No, and I'm not going to guess," Duane said.
Karla laughed. "It's not you, Duane," she said.
She had another T-shirt which read, I'VE GOT THE SADDLE, WHERE'S THE HORSE? It was, it seemed to her, a painfully clear reference to Mel Tillis's sexiest song, "I've Got the Horse if You've Got the Saddle." But of course no one in Thalia caught the allusion. When she wore it, all that happened was that men tried to sell her overpriced quarter horses.
"The thing I hate most in the world is blister bugs," Karla said. "I wanta hire a wetback to help me with this garden."
"I don't know why you plant such a big garden," Duane said. "We couldn't eat that many tomatoes if we ate twenty-four hours a day."
"I was raised to be thrifty," Karla said.
"Why'd you buy that BMW then?" Duane asked. "You could have bought a pickup if you wanted to be thrifty. A BMW won't last a week on these roads."
Their new house was five miles from town, dirt roads all the way. When they started building the house they intended to pave the road themselves, but the boom ended before they even got the house built, and it was clear that dirt roads would be their destiny for some time to come.
Duane had started hating the new house before the foundation was laid. He would have moved tomorrow, but he was surrounded by a wall of debtors, and anyway Karla loved the house and would have resisted any suggestion that they face up to straitened circumstances and try to sell it as soon as the paint dried.
He poked the barrel of the .44 into the water. Refraction made the barrel seem to grow. Shorty moved closer to the edge of the hot tub and peered in at it. Everything Duane did seemed interesting to Shorty. Many human actions were incomprehensible to him, but that didn't mean he couldn't watch.
"Duane, why are you poking that gun in the water?" Karla asked.
"I was thinking of shooting my dick off," he said. "It's caused me nothing but trouble my whole life."
Karla took that news with equanimity. She scratched her shapely calf. Karla believed that the way not to have your figure ruined by childbearing was to have your kids young and then get tied off. Shortly after producing Nellie she got tied off, but ten years later something came untied. Intermittently religious, she decided it must be God's will that they have twins. It should have been medically impossible -- and besides that, she and Duane only rarely made love.
But one afternoon, after ten days of rain, with the rigs all shut down, they did make love and the twins resulted. During the pregnancy Karla tried to cheer herself up by imagining that she was about to produce little human angels, perfect in every way. Why else would God give her twins when her husband wasn't even giving her a sex life?
The twins were born, and as soon as Jack grew four teeth he bit completely through his sister's ear. The angel theory was discarded -- indeed, while sitting in the emergency room getting Julie's ear fixed Karla stopped being religious for good.
Jack and Julie were terrible babies. They bit and clawed one another like little beasts. They shouldered one another out of their baby bed, and stuffed toys in one another's mouths. As soon as they could lift things they hit each other with whatever they could lift. It seemed to Karla that she spent more and more of her life in emergency rooms -- indeed, the twins were not safe from themselves even there. Once Julie grabbed some surgical scissors off a tray and jabbed her brother in the ear with them.
"My kids believe in an ear for an ear," Karla told her friends, who enjoyed gallows humor.
She learned never to take the twins to the hospital at the same time: there were too many weapons in hospitals.
In time Karla concluded that the twins' conception had nothing to do with Divine Will, and everything to do with medical incompetence. She wanted to bring a malpractice suit against Doctor Deckert, the young general practitioner who tied her off.
"No, you can't sue him," Duane said. "You might run him off, and if you do half the people in town will die of minor ailments."
"Shit, what about us?" Karla said. "We got a life sentence because of him."
Shortly after that Karla had a T-shirt printed which read, INSANITY IS THE BEST REVENGE. The line wasn't original with her, nor was it from a hillbilly song. She had seen it on a bumper sticker and liked it.
In fact, Karla found almost as many important truths on bumper stickers as she found in songs. One which hewed very closely to her own philosophy of life said, IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING SET IT FREE. IF IT DOESN'T RETURN IN A MONTH OR TWO HUNT IT DOWN AND KILL IT.
With more amusement than alarm, she watched Duane point the pistol into the water.
"Duane, I don't think you ought to try and shoot your dick off," she said.
"Why not?" he asked. "It don't work half the time anyway."
"Well, I wouldn't be the one to know about that," Karla said. "But it's a small target and if you miss you'll just ruin our new hot tub."
She laughed loudly at her own wit. Shorty, excited by the laughter, began to roll around on the redwood deck. He attempted to bite his own tail and came close to nipping it a time or two.
"Don't sulk, Duane," Karla said. "You left yourself wide open for that one."
She stood up and kicked Shorty lightly in the ribs. Shorty was too excited by the pursuit of his own tail to take any notice.
"I guess I'll go in and see if I can talk Nellie into acting like a parent for a few minutes," Karla said.
Duane took the gun out of the water. In the far corner of the vast yard the new white satellite dish was tilted skyward, its antenna pointed toward a spot somewhere over the equator. The dish was the most expensive one available in Dallas. Before they had even got it aligned properly Karla had gone to Dallas and returned with a Betamax, a VHS and four thousand dollars' worth of movies she had purchased from a video store. So far they had only watched two of them: Coal Miner's Daughter, which Karla and Nellie watched once or twice a week, and a sex movie called Hot Channels.
Duane pointed out to her that it was possible to rent movies. They could even be rented from Sonny Crawford's small convenience store, in Thalia.
"I know that, Duane," Karla said. "Just because I'm horny don't mean I'm dumb. The ones I want to see are always checked out, though."
However, on her next visit to Dallas she considerately bought only eight hundred dollars' worth of movies.
Duane had been in the hot tub nearly half an hour and was beginning to feel a little bleached. He climbed out and dried himself and his pistol. He felt weary -- very weary. Sometimes he would wake up in the night needing to relieve himself and would feel so tired by the time he stumbled into the bathroom that he would have to sit on the pot and nap for a few minutes before going back to bed. Getting rich had been tiring, but nothing like as tiring as going broke.
The minute Duane climbed out, Shorty stopped rolling around on the deck and raced across the yard to park himself expectantly beside Duane's pickup. He knew it was almost time for Duane to go to town, and he was ready to roll.

Copyright © 1987 by Larry McMurtry
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First Chapter

Chapter 2

On the way to town Duane got on the CB and tried to check in with Ruth Popper, his outspoken secretary, who was actually no more outspoken than Karla, his wife, or Janine Wells, his girlfriend, or Minerva, his maid.

While he was becoming rich, the women in his life had become outspoken. He had stopped being rich, but they had not stopped being outspoken. Any one of them would argue with a skillet, or with whatever was being cooked in the skillet, or with whoever came by -- Duane himself, usually -- to eat what was being cooked.

He didn't really want to talk to Ruth, but there was always the faint chance that oil prices had risen during the night, in which case somebody with a little credit left might want an oil well drilled.

The CB crackled, but Ruth didn't answer. Shorty watched the CB alertly. At first he had barked his characteristic piercing bark every time it crackled, but after Duane had whacked him with his work gloves several hundred times Shorty got the message and stopped barking at it, though he continued to watch it alertly in case whatever was in it popped out and attacked Duane.

Just as the pickup swung onto the highway leading into Thalia, Ruth Popper jogged off the pavement and began to run up the dirt road. Ruth was a passionate jogger. She passed so close to the pickup that Duane could have leaned out and hit her in the head with a hammer -- though only if he'd been quick. Despite her age, Ruth was speedy. She wore earphones and had a Walkman, a speedometer, and various other gadgets attached to her belt as she ran. She also carried an orange weight in each hand.

She showed no sign of being aware that she had just passed withi had driven a cattle truck, Karla had sometimes come with him on his runs. He was just back from Korea; they were just married. It seemed to him he had passed through a town called Cotswold, though it might have been in Nebraska or even Iowa. But it didn't seem to him that the bar ditches in Kansas could be that much better to jog in than the bar ditches in Texas.

"Duane, it's in England," Karla said. "Don't you remember? We read about it in that airlines magazine the time we took the kids to Disneyland."

Duane didn't enjoy being reminded of the time they took the kids to Disneyland. Jack had almost succeeded in drowning Julie on the log ride. Dickie, who hated to spend money on anything except drugs, got caught shoplifting. He tried to steal his girlfriend a stuffed gorilla from one of the gift shops. Nellie disappeared completely, having decided to run off to Guaymas with a young Mexican she met on one of the rides. They stopped in Indio so Nellie could call her boyfriend in Thalia and tell him she was breaking off their engagement. The boyfriend managed to reach Karla and Duane, and the runaways were stopped at the Arizona line.

Nine months later, having married and divorced the boy she had meant to break up with, Nellie had Little Mike, their first grandchild. He did not look Hispanic, or bear any resemblance to the husband she had had so briefly.

"They say travel's broadening," Karla remarked, on the flight home from Disneyland.

Duane looked up just in time to see Jack slip two ice cubes from his Coke down the neck of a little old woman who had been brought on board in a wheelchair and dumped in the seat in front of him.

"Whoever said that never traveled with our kids," Duane said a s the old lady began to writhe in her seat. "I'm telling you right now I'll commit suicide before I'll go anywhere with them again."

He glanced at Julie to see what evil she might be contemplating. Julie wore dark glasses with huge purple frames. She had a teen magazine spread over her lap and her hand under the magazine. Duane decided to his horror that she was playing with her crotch.

"What did you say, Duane?" Karla asked. "I was reading and didn't hear."

"I said I'd commit suicide before I'd go anywhere else with these kids," he said.

"Duane, don't brag," Karla said. "You know you're too big a sissy even to go to the hospital and get a shot."

She noticed the little old lady, who was writhing more desperately as the ice cubes worked their way down her back.

"I hope that old lady isn't going into convulsions," she said.

Duane had been trying to decide where his duty lay. Should he try to help the old lady get the ice cubes out, which would practically mean undressing her? Should he grab Jack and break his neck? Should he demand that his son apologize? Jack was an ingenious liar and accepted no punishment meekly. The more blatant his crimes, the more brilliant he became in his own defense. Duane began to get a headache. He felt like strangling his son. He wondered if the stewardesses realized that his beautiful little daughter was playing with her crotch. Dallas-Fort Worth seemed very far away.

"Duane, don't sulk, it was a real nice trip in some ways," Karla said.

Copyright © 1987 by Larry McMurtry

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2000

    Texasville is disappointing

    I have read many Larry McMurtry books. This is the worst of the probably seven books by this author that I have read. Texasville dwells on the neuroses of the small town cast, but the characters become so farcical that they are not believable. The Last Picture Show is a much better book than this. I'm afraid to think of what the third book of this trilogy is like. In my opinion, this author is much better in his books placed in the west, although I did enjoy his most recent book of reflections at a Dairy Queen.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2004

    one of my favorites

    While this book is of a different style than his usual, it is extremely comical and quite a fun read (probably less so for the learned). While not believable, we have all met 'white trash' who suddenly come into money. Their antics are hysterical. I highly recommended it if you want to be entertained.

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