Published in 1966, McMurtry's novel follows the lives of a select few in the town of Thalia, Texas, a rather small and dull town. The main characters, Sonny and Duane, are high school seniors who go through a routine that involves the movie theater, cafe, and pool hall--just about the only things to do in the town in the 1950s. While the story revolves around the two friends, it is intertwined with others in the town who impact both their lives. In the span of a little over a year that takes place in The Last Picture Show great changes occur in Sonny and Duane's lives--there's romance, sex, and heartbreak and altercations.
While the novel takes place in a small Texas town in the 1950s, the story is rather timeless and its themes universal. There are emotions of characters and situations that almost anyone can relate to. McMurtry's prose sin't complicated but conveys the mood of the situations, and the dialogue reflects the regional dialect and education level of the characters.
For those who don't want to take the time to read The Last Picture Show, there's always the 1971 film with Jeff Bridges.