Blanche’s Book Club: ‘Loop Group’.

This week was incredibly difficult for me. I felt okay at first, but quickly caught myself falling into the things I do when depression hits: not getting quality sleep at night, so sleeping during the day, wanting to eat unhealthy, wanting to skip yoga (or skip leaving the house altogether).

But, one of my goals this year is to find healthy ways to cope with my emotionally dark times. So, I absolutely forced myself to go to yoga four times this week — even if I just laid on my mat, I’d be thankful for getting outside of my apartment — and I felt so much better after every session.

I also stuck to my healthy eats and am going to try to get at least a few nights of good sleep this weekend. I have suffered from insomnia and night terrors for many years and the only thing to truly curb it is my vegan diet and regular exercise.

Reading, I think, is another healthy way to cope with stress — at the very least, it keeps me away from my electronics for chunks of time.

The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “Loop Group” by Larry McMurtry. Here is the book’s description from Simon & Schuster:

Loop Group is Larry McMurtry at his contemporary best, a novel that can best be described as Thelma and Louise meets Terms of Endearment, in which two aging ladies set out on a road trip that will take them from Hollywood to Texas, with many adventures on the way.

In perhaps his finest contemporary novel since Terms of Endearment, Larry McMurtry, with his miraculously sure touch at creating instantly recognizable women characters and his equally miraculous sharp eye for the absurdities of everyday life in the modern West, writes about two women, old friends, who set off on an adventure—with unpredictable and sometimes hilarious results.

As Loop Group opens, we meet Maggie, whose three grown-up daughters have arrived at her Hollywood home to try and make her see sense about her busy life, a life that intersects with lots of interesting—all right, bizarre—people. Her daughters push her into having a few second thoughts about it, and these are reinforced when her best friend, Connie, seeks an escape from her own world of complex and difficult relationships with men. Maggie conceives the idea of driving to visit her Aunt Cooney’s ranch near Electric City, Texas, and the two women prepare for the trip by buying a .38 Special revolver (which leads to unexpected trouble along the way). This road trip will end by changing their lives.

Alternately hilariously funny and profoundly sad—even tragic—Loop Group is a major Larry McMurtry novel and a joy to read.

I stumbled across this book at a library book sale and I was SO excited when I saw it because I have heard great things about the author and figured this would be a good way to ease my way in.

I’ll be honest though, I was disappointed. For starters, the book never explains what a Loop Group is (I had to Google it) and once I found out what it is (people who dub lines and other vocals for movies), I couldn’t really understand how it related to the overarching plot of the movie.

I am in an online book group and, once I finished reading the book, I asked if anyone else had read it and what they thought, and there were similar responses.

However, there were several scenes throughout the book I enjoyed, particularly those that occurred while the women were on the road.

In Needles they bought many necessities, including a Styrofoam cooler and two bags of ice. They bought some limes, some canned iced tea, plenty of V8 juice, and two fifths of vodka. Just having the vodka made Connie feel better, but she couldn’t immediately get drunk because it was her turn to drive.

The end also had a very interesting twist, but ultimately I found myself not connecting with the characters… and when that happens, it’s hard coming back!

But, I don’t think I’m going to give up on McMurtry yet. If you’ve read a book of his that you’ve loved, please let me know. Or if you’ve read several of them, is there another one I should start with?

Next, Blanche’s Book Club will be reading “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid.

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