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Horseman, Pass By

(Thalia, Texas #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,606 ratings  ·  202 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 IvinsDead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry
Texas Authors
639 books — 252 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 McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Best Westerns
966 books — 1,180 voters

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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,606 ratings  ·  202 reviews

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Fred Shaw
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McMurtry has to be my favorite author because he wrote my favorite book "Lonesome Dove "and so many more classics. This is a fantastic story and McMurtry shows off his uncanny ability to create lovable characters and lives so real you want to try and find them.
Laura Leaney
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: western
This was the start of a 40+ book career, a book he wrote while attending North Texas State. Imperfect, but astounding first work.

"All of them wanted more and seemed to end up with less; they wanted excited and ended up stomped up by a bull or smashed up against a highway; or they wanted a girl to court; and anyway, whatever it was they wanted, that was what they ended up doing without."
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry's first novel is a rather remarkable slice of Texas life in the relatively modern era. HORSEMAN, PASS BY was made into a popular movie, HUD. But the novel is darker than the film, which nudged one character's moral character slightly toward the sympathetic and shoved another character into an entirely different race. Paul Newman, at the height of his coolness and fame when HUD was filmed, played the title character with menace, anger, and plenty of moral turpitude. But he also pla ...more
Feb 28, 2015 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 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a great intense read. It reminded me of border trilogy books by Cormac McCarthy. Hard to believe this is his first book.
Apr 15, 2012 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
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-west
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
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
It is very possible to die of a broken heart.
It’s shameful how some people can simply get away with mean-spirited entitlement, violence and destruction.
You can watch these things happening around you and let it crush your spirit.
But sometimes, especially when you’re seventeen and with few rules to govern you, you can just roll with it and carry on.

Kim Serene
Jan 02, 2010 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
Aug 05, 2013 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.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This was good but it also made me sick to my stomach.
Nov 24, 2013 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
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry's Horseman, Pass By is his first novel and contains the story upon which the movie Hud (1963) with Paul Newman was based. The story is told from the point of view of Lonnie, the younger grandson of rancher Homer Bannon. The character of Scott (Hud), the other grandson, is important only in the latter part of the novel, when he tries to take over from Homer.

It's hard to conceive of a novel about ranching as being anything other than a bore, but McMurtry manages to bring it off.

Sep 17, 2015 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
A brilliant short contemporary Western--written in 1961--the story of a "not-quite-stranger comes to town"--the devil himself, only he's not quite a stranger, he's the stepson of the upright old rancher, and the perverse role model of the vulnerable grandson. The movie Hud was based on this scorcher of a book. The idealism, stoicism and valor of the Old West held up in contrast to the amoralism, cynicism and viciousness of the Post-War west. A real heartbreaker.
May 30, 2011 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.
Carol Storm
Oct 31, 2011 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!
Sep 15, 2018 marked it as abandoned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not a bad book but I fear this book paid the price of my over-saturation with Westerns. I think I will hold on to it and maybe revisit in the future when time has passed and I'm in a better shape rather than reading while suffering of Western-fatigue. The story follows Lonnie, he is the grandchild of Homer Bannon and he lives in a ranch in Texas with his grandfather, grandmother, her son Hud and the help who includes Halmea - a black house maid whom Lonnie crushes on. 

There are great the
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Feels like coming home, to read this. The language is like my dad’s farming language. There are some lovely, poetic turns of phrase, too. But such a sad, sad story. In McMurtry you get characters who are really bad, like Hud, and others who are really good and innocent, like Lonnie Bannon and Halmea, and you get cowboying that rings tragic and true. This one’s not as masterful as Lonesome Dove, obviously, and not as developed (it was published when he was only 26 years old, for pete’s sake), but ...more
Katherine Evans
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first western I've ever read and I don't think I'm accustomed to the structure of the genre, because it felt like a slow start. Nevertheless, a beautiful story.
Jason Wilson
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
And so ends my sojourn into Larry McMurtry books. This one somewhat redeemed itself at the end but after Lonesome Dove things went downhill.
May 12, 2014 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 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
Aug 31, 2014 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
Jun 30, 2010 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
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Pretty impressive for a first novel, and you can see glimpses of what will be coming. Not the most thrilling plot, but good description of life on a 1950s Texas cattle ranch: the isolation, hard work, relations with employees and family, especially through the eyes of a young man yearning for a little more in the world, but also coming more aware of life's injustices, even when it is his own family involved.
carl  theaker
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fancy-fiction

A real good read. I liked the conciseness and clarity of the
roles; the father, son and grandson, all battling for their
emotional and evolving patriarchal place in the hierarchy of
the family ranch in small town Texas.

If you've seen the movie Hud you'll never get those actors
portrayals of these characters out of your head.
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Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-serie

Other books in the series

Thalia, Texas (4 books)
  • Leaving Cheyenne
  • Thalia: A Texas Trilogy
  • The Last Picture Show
“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.” 6 likes
“Things are just put together wrong. There’s so much shit in the world a man’s gonna get in it sooner or later, whether he’s careful or not.” 2 likes
More quotes…