I read the 4 Berrybender books several years ago, and my initial evaluation was disappointment, as they were so silly and shallow compared to McMurtry's other novels. Its true that his characters are wonderful, but the events were so preposterous, I just couldn't understand why he would devote so many words to such an unbelievable story.
Now I think I've changed my mind. I've just read several novels of the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806, and learned that over the next several decades, it became very popular to "recreate" the voyage. In fact, in the 1830-1840 period, a very wealthy Scotland Noble and his family did just that. Now I am wondering if these novels are some sort of a spoof on that very journey. I don't know why McMurtry may have found the idea ridiculous, but perhaps this is the basis of these novels.
If anyone has any info on this to confirm or deny, I'd appreciate hearing from you. Short of writing to McMurtry, it remains a mystery to me, as I haven't found any fact-based reviews of these books on the internet.
A fairly typical McMurtry book ~ like Lonesome Dove and the rest, the characters and situations are by turn funny, sad, silly and heartbreaking; but never dull. A complex story and still goes very fast and easy.