TERMS OF ENDEARMENT
Ninety-six percent of McMurtry's new novel is skittery, haphazard comedy about one of those pleasantly imperious originals, Aurora Greenway, widowed at 49, and never able to "vouch for tomorrow" or quite live up to the promise of her full lower lip. Spending her mornings in disapproval of her daughter Emma who married badly--a rather inert young man whom her maid Rosie claims "ain't fit to kick off a porch"--or of Rosie who's been fighting with her for twenty-odd years, Aurora then spends the rest of the day with her various options and outlets--a banker, a four-star general, an opera singer who had a stroke, etc., until she meets a younger man with a fancy car and a "few mil" (oil-this takes place in Houston) and unbounded devotion. At the end there's a coda, sort of off tune, about Emma who now has three children and a "million cancers" destroying her not quite quickly enough and this is short and sad and sweet although it doesn't quite properly belong. If all of it goes on much too long, there are some nice lines and among those Terms of Endearment to be applied--why not try ease, affection, benignity.