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Horseman, Pass By

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,943 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lonesome Dove comes the novel that became the basis for the film Hud, starring Paul Newman. In classic Western style Larry McMurtry illustrates the timeless conflict between the modernity and the Old West through the eyes of Texas cattlemen.

Horseman, Pass By tells the story of Homer Bannon, an old-time cattleman who epitomizes the
Paperback, 192 pages
Published July 2nd 2002 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1961)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Time It Never Rained by Elmer KeltonThe Road by Cormac McCarthyMolly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly IvinsThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry
Texas Authors
16th out of 464 books — 164 voters
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyNo Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Best Westerns
141st out of 765 books — 1,012 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Laura Leaney
Apr 21, 2014 Laura Leaney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
Maybe the reason I love McMurtry is the powerful way he evokes the emotional truth of a place through its disparate physical details: the way a man slaps his gloves against his leg or “two young dog coyotes trotting along the edge of a ridge” or “a big freezerful of peach ice cream, rich as Jersey milk.”

In the foreground of this story is the narrator, Lonnie, whose heart is an adolescent reservoir of sexual and spiritual longing. He is the stoic poet, a boy who spends many a night beneath the b
Ned Mozier
Mar 09, 2015 Ned Mozier rated it really liked it
If you've ever been a frustrated boy on a ranch, or a farm, isolated and yearning, you will be able to relate to this 17 year old protagonist. McMurtry offers an authentic case of spare prose, no adornments or sentimentality, of this lad as he watches a generation (his grand dad) pass and the takeover of a rapacious new order (Hud, the son of his grand dad's second wife). This book offered the everyday sights, smells, angst and beauty of north Texas in the 50's. The black servant provides unwitt ...more
Apr 15, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
This was Larry McMurtry's first novel, published in 1961, long before "Lonesome Dove." It's also his first of several books set in and around the small Texas town of Thalia. The story was quickly transformed into a Paul Newman film "Hud" in 1963, which is the version of the story most people know. In spirit, the two stories are similar - they are both anti-westerns, in which code of the West is subverted and corrupted by failure of moral character.

But McMurtry's novel tells a story with a darker
Kim Serene
Jan 03, 2010 Kim Serene rated it really liked it
Devastating. I couldn't put this book down and read it in a day (rare for me). Never having read anything by Larry McMurtry I thought it would be wise to begin with his first novel. If the next twenty-some novels are anything like 'Horseman, Pass By' I know who's books I'll be reading for the next few years! I loved McMurtry's descriptions of the spaces and places of young Lonnie's life on a ranch in Texas in the late 1950's - the sweet shade of the sycamore tree outside the kitchen door, the su ...more
May 12, 2014 Melinda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
I was immediately swept away by McMurtry's eloquent writing. His style is so mesmerizing, seductive and fluid. The reader is drawn into this story from the onset, devouring every page with a thirst for more. I felt the sweltering heat of Texas, the dirt gritty on my skin, yes, his writing is that detailed.

The characters represent the past, present and future, as well as a scapegoat for one despicable man's anger and hate. I have never in my life loathed a character as much as I loathed Hud. Hud
Nov 15, 2012 Ross rated it really liked it
Having read the ‘Lonesome Dove’ cycle and loved the McMurtry style I decided to go back to the beginning of his career and tackled this, his first published novel.

This is in many respects a quite different read although there are themes in common. This novel has an altogether bleaker view of a particular rural ‘western’ life style than is found in the ‘Lonesome Dove’ series, or in ‘Hud’, the movie version of this book. It depicts rural post WWII Texas and contrasts the ethics and attitudes of t
Dec 19, 2013 Judy rated it really liked it

I've read Larry McMurtry over the years, mostly the famous ones, and have always liked his romantic cowboys and quirky females. Horseman, Pass By was his first published novel. Two years later it was adapted into the movie Hud starring Paul Newman. I remember that movie but it changed the book in a couple radical ways.

Horseman, Pass By, at 179 pages, is just barely a novel. Lonnie Bannon, raised by his grandfather on a West Texas cattle ranch, is coming of age. Hud is his stepbrother, son of the
Sep 21, 2015 Robert rated it did not like it
This is slathered in so much nostalgia, sentiment, and glamour for the Texas cowboyin' way of life, I had to quit 100 pages in. I love Hud, the film version of this, so I was shocked to find myself hating what I was reading here, especially from an author as beloved as McMurtry. Lonnie's first person commentary about the highly uneventful life he's lived and his long-winded, tedious descriptions of the landscape, the cowboys, the cows, the waitresses, the frickin' eggs they serve in the restaura ...more
Aug 31, 2014 Layla rated it it was amazing
Larry McMurtry is really good at making me fall in love with Texas over and over again. The opening exposition is unspeakably beautiful in it's description of what it feels and looks like as dusk is falling in rural Texas. The novel is so very different from the movie HUD, which I haven't seen in a long time. Of course, I prefer the book. Texas has such a vast and varied history and the tales of ranchers is fascinating if not sad and tragic at times. I cried a few times while reading this book a ...more
Carrie Lee
Aug 13, 2016 Carrie Lee rated it liked it
I need to remember how depressed I get reading stories that are set in small towns, not so that I won't read them, but so I more reasonably choose when I read them.
Jun 30, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: texana
I keep buying used books originating from the shelves of someone, someone who writes grammatical corrections in BLUE INK, even when it is OBVIOUS the novel is written in a certain idiom, in this case that of a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD IN WEST TEXAS. And even moral indictments written beside circled portions of text? What compels people to do such things? Do they achieve some satisfaction from pointing to the words of a widely published book, and saying "WRONG" "SINFUL" "EVIL"? What a miserable, contrary ...more
Aug 05, 2013 Dark-Draco rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
There was something so bittersweet about this book and I still haven't really decided what I think of it. I agree that the characters seemed so real, the setting just as I imagined. However, the story left me a bit unsatisified - but then again, so was Lonnie at the end and it was his story. The fate of the cows really did touch a nerve - still have too fresh memories of a few years ago and the way it hit our way of life round here. I suppose that's why I wanted something good to happen.
Apr 11, 2016 SamT rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Larry McMurtry's first novel is the story of rancher Homer Bannon, a hard, but an honest and decent man, his wayward stepson, Hud, and his grandson, Lonnie, a teenager who is the narrator. The setting is in the 1950's on a North Texas cattle ranch, much like the one McMurtry grew up on.
Homer has bought a herd of South Texas cattle, against the wishes of Hud, that is infected with hoof and mouth disease. When the disease is discovered Homer wants to follow the advice of the state veterinar
Sep 26, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this novella in one day and thought it was great. It evoked the Texas way of life in the mid-50's with amazing clarity. The three central characters were simply and richly drawn, and believable in every way. Hud is an unforgettable bad guy, a real rotten apple, and he won't be a character I'll soon forget. This was an overwhelmingly tragic tale, not my favorite thing, and I do not like the theme of "the passage of time". And yet - I am giving this book a 5 star rating, because it was that ...more
May 30, 2011 Terri rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it. The differences between it and Hud, the movie based on this book, make for an interesting contrast. Must read the book and see the movie. Both are worth the time.
Feb 16, 2014 Fiona rated it liked it
A classic Larry McMurtry story. This is a cowboy story that takes place in 1954. Lonnie, who is 19 years old, lives on a ranch near Thalia, Texas with his Granddad, Grandma (Granddad's second wife), and Hud (a veteran of WWII). Halmea is the cook plus there are two ranch hands. Granddad is getting old, and to Hud, he's also going senile. Then, they discovered the cattle have hoof and mouth disease so the entire herd of cattle have to be killed. No new cattle can graze on their land for a year. T ...more
Carol Storm
Oct 31, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
Amazingly great modern western -- feels like an epic but it's so short you can read it in a single night!
Jan 20, 2015 Alexis rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2015
I love Larry McMurtry's modern novels. I find him to be creative and I like his writing style. I've read this and "The Last Picture Show." Does anyone have any other suggestions?

I'm not interested in reading Lonesome Dove right now, thanks.

Reading this book also helped me solve a few problems in my current work in progress, which was invaluable. I expect I'll read it again.

This book is the basis for the movie "Hud", which I adored. I cried when I watched it, and it's something that is an influen
Dec 31, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful story, as much about growing old as it is about growing up.
Christian Schwoerke
Jan 05, 2014 Christian Schwoerke rated it liked it
I had read his Lonesome Dove in 1990 or so, but it was only this past week, in 2013, that I read his first novel, published in 1961. My interest in the book was initially a recollection of Paul Newman’s performance as Hud, which I saw as a youth, in 1963. This memory of Hud, as a callow, abusive man who mistreated women came to me as I read Rabbit, Run. I wondered at that time, if misogyny was something in the air (an unspoken essential element of the 50s), so, after finishing the Rabbit tetralo ...more
Nov 16, 2011 J.T. rated it really liked it
Stark. Desolate. Unpleasant. Genius.
Jan 29, 2011 Rod rated it really liked it
Shelves: westerns
I've seen the movie Hud so many times that it probably colored my perception of this book too much while I was reading it, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed Horseman, Pass By more if I had never seen the movie which was adapted from it; that said, I still enjoyed it a great deal. McMurtry's a terrific writer and his concise yet often aridly poetic prose captures the feel of coming of age in a small western town in the mid-20th century perfectly.

Those who come to the book after having seen the mo
Aug 07, 2012 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McMurtry has been one of my favorite authors ever since I read some of his early novels back in the 1970s including Leaving Cheyenne and The Last Picture Show. Horseman, Pass By has been on my shelf for several years and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. It was a wonderful novel told from the perspective of a young boy, Lonnie, who grew up on a Texas cattle ranch in the 1950s. It really shows the realities of ranch life including the loneliness, hard work, and bad luck. It also detail ...more
May 29, 2008 Joy rated it it was amazing
This book is McMurtry's first novel and a memorable start to a career of putting the reader in the hip pocket of, on the saddle with, and in the life and times of the characters he portrays with aching accuracy.

I wasn't aware this was the book on which the screen-play for the Paul Newman movie "Hud" was based until I recently read McMurtry's "In A Narrow Grave", a collection of essays. The first essay in the Narrow Grave book is about his experience with the making of that movie. I saw the movi
Aug 07, 2008 Grant rated it really liked it
very good coming of age novel told from the perspective of lonny, a 17 year old boy living on a cattle ranch in west texas. there is some beautiful writing about work and the lonesome quality of the land, which in turn reveals lonny's own state of isolation. this book is a fair amount different from the movie "hud", which i really like. but each stands on their own strengths. in the movie hud is really the center of attention,and i think the audience stands in with lonny learning whether hud rea ...more
Peter Elkind
Sep 03, 2013 Peter Elkind rated it it was amazing
Horseman, Pass By (renamed Hud) is a western novel that tells the story of a young cowboy and his family over the course of a troubling summer. The main character, Lonnie struggles with loneliness at times as he is stuck on the ranch with only several family members and is bored by the small town that sits miles away. He seems to respect Hud but is also scared by him and his actions. Although Hud is not the main character, his personality is perhaps the most complicated of them all. It is diffic ...more
Jul 29, 2012 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: texas
Horseman, Pass By is about Lonnie, a teenager who yearns to leave home, the ranch that his 80 year-old grandfather has built from nothing. He lives on that ranch with his forceful but deteriorating grandpa, an African-American servant Halmea (whom he has the hots for), a couple of kindly ranch hands, and Hud, his grandfather’s hedonistic and downright mean stepson. The novel recounts the tale of one summer, in which Lonnie’s safe world seems to deteriorate around him, tossing him out into that w ...more
Chris Black
May 26, 2016 Chris Black rated it it was amazing
Captivating and devastating. Perfectly lucid writing that captures well the feeling of longing that permeates this novel.

Lonnie Bannon is captured between nostalgia (for his granddad, for the land) and desire (to hell-raise and see the world), and he is a perfect character to walk this line. He is tough but also sensitive, attuned to the meaningful nuances of everyday life, the inevitability of death, and the hypocrisy of those who often act like they care the most.
May 25, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing
Might be one of the best books I've ever read, an amazing accomplishment considering how much I hate Westerns.

This contains the classic romantic elements of the Old West, yet at the same time it's infused with a bracing reality of the real world and its brutality.

McMurtry's writing is dreamy and evocative. Take this passage at the end of one chapter:

“The old cows bawling in the horse pasture kept me awake till nearly morning, and I lay in bed with my eyes open, thinking about all the girls I kne
Jan 24, 2015 Jackie rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry - sometimes I like him, sometimes, I don't. I think I like his early books the best, and this is one of them. His Texans are so real, and his use of their language is so perfect, I can hear the words they say and see their faces. I had seen the movie, Hud, years ago. It was supposedly based upon this book. I would say it was very, very loosely based upon this book. While a depressing story in many ways, it was beautifully written.
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was
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“There would be a trial, of course. But I had watched a few trials in Thalia, and I had seen people a lot dumber than Hud get away with a lot worse than what he did.” 5 likes
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