Long well-known for his magnetic historical stories, Larry McMurtry
shows in LOOP GROUP a flair for the modern. His female lead is
Maggie Clary, a sixty-year-old southern California woman who is in
a deeply depressed mental state. Nothing her three grown daughters
can say or do will bring her out of it. She relies on the
nineteen-year-long advisement of her Sicilian shrink, Dr. Tom, with
whom she schedules a weekly appointment. She has had a crush on him
for years but never crosses the patient-doctor relationship line,
however much she hungers for a sexual one with him.
Maggie's Loop Group is her stability. The group is a crazy mixture
of personalities she gathers daily in her van and drives to the
Hollywood studio where they will perform for that day. Maggie's job
is to "loop" for the movie industry. Her company, Prime Loops,
specializes primarily in Westerns, action movies and comedies.
Maggie loves her Hollywood home and everything about the bungalow
where she has lived most of her life. The current dilemma with her
psyche stems from a recent hysterectomy. Maggie is depressed,
disconnected and down on her life.
Connie, her best friend from childhood, works in the loop group and
remains Maggie's steadfast ally, giving advice, taking comfort and
occasionally moving in with Maggie. Both women are sexual amazons
for their ages, having craved multiple liaisons through the years
of their friendship. Maggie's solution for her funky mental state
is to embark on a trip across America, in her van, to Electric
City, Texas. Joined by Connie, she'll visit old Aunt Cooney, her
mother's sister. LOOP GROUP is not only a vehicular journey across
the southwestern desert land but a mind trip as well.
From her first step on the gas pedal, Maggie rides a roller-coaster
of emotion on the road to Texas. The girls carry a .38-caliber
pistol in the glove compartment for protection. Members of Prime
Loops, however strange, appear normal --- even sane --- in
comparison to personalities they meet on the road. Sometimes
hilarious, sometimes pathetic and always emotional, the friends
discover unknown truths about themselves by the time the trip has
looped them back to Hollywood.
McMurtry writes the female mind with ease, one of the best in the
business of the feminine mystique. Despite the fact that sexuality
is the redundant theme in LOOP GROUP, the story does not lack
taste. A few sexual boundaries are maintained. If one expects a
McMurtry western saga, about a way of life long past, this is not
the book of choice. However, if a light read about mixed-up
personalities will please for an afternoon with teacup in hand,
LOOP GROUP will do it. My one wish is that the characters would
have engineered their own solutions to their problems. Still, LOOP
GROUP commands one's attention until the end.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 7, 2011