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Mass Market Paperback Horseman, Pass by Book

ISBN: 0671753843

ISBN13: 9780671753849

Horseman, Pass by

(Book #1 in the Thalia, Texas Series)

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Book Overview

The stunning first novel from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove. Young Lonnie idolizes Hud--a wild-acting man who'll do anything to get what he wants, whether it hurts someone or not. There are only two people Hud won't bow to. And when he tries to conquer them, nothing will ever be the same.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

He ain't got no slowdown to him

I have not seen the movie, so the differences in the story don't concern me (though from what I read about it, the fact that the racist angle was taken out is culturally significant). The title of the book was somehow familiar, but I had no clear idea who LMM is. Then I bought the book after recommendation by the Emperor, and found out that I am quite familiar with the writer, only I never memorized the name. However the aquaintance is from movies: Brokeback Mountain, Terms of Endearment, Last Picture Show. A good reference list. The book is a lesson in efficient story telling. Calling it a Western evokes images of cowboys, rodeos, fights between men about everything under the sun, but in first place about property and in second place about women. And then we think of country and weather, mostly of the dry variety, and of animals: cattle, horses, rattlers, vultures, bullfrogs. This is all there, but the idea is also misleading. We are actually in a multiple conflict zone: between generations, between individuals and the government, between races, between master and servant. This is a story from the world of work on a ranch, and the work process is central. It is not a romantic novel, but one from the world of industry. The plot centers on a man's fight against fate and age. He is not a quitter, but Foot and Mouth Disease is a rancher's version of a disastrous epidemic. And a young rival without scruples is a bad match for an octogenarian. If I may look for something mildly critical to say: the narration is not trying hard to build suspense. It is oddly aloof. The narrator is strangely absent despite his multiple involvement: he is not taking sides. He is a young man of 17 without real emotions, it seems.

Don't Pass This Book By

In 1961 Larry McMurtry's debut, HORSEMAN, PASS BY, would revitalize the image of the cowboy in literature. With the release of the movie HUD (starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal) two years later, it would be the first of many McMurtry stories to be adapted to film. HUD was a big success: Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal both won Oscars, while Paul Newman's performance in the title role is considered to be one of his finest. Over the years the novel has unfortunately become somewhat obscure, being searched for mostly by those who are fans of the film. But, as is usually the case, book and movie differ significantly in a variety of ways. Exemplified in the antagonism between the stoic and hardworking Homer Bannon and the arrogant and amoral Scott "Hud" Bannon, HORSEMAN, PASS BY and HUD both present a stark and unsentimental account of the Old West losing ground to the modern world. Nevertheless, McMurtry's novel is less willing to compromise with its message that there are those of us who are simply bad people. While the movie naturally focuses on its namesake-character, utilizing a handsome and charming Paul Newman to portray him as a deeply flawed but ultimately misunderstood antihero, McMurty's book reads from the perspective of Homer's 17 years old grandson, Lonnie, who witnesses the demise of his grandfather's life and everything the old man spent 80 years of hard work and patience to build. Despite a teenaged boy's likely envy for the older man's independence and easy way with women, Lonnie is mature enough to see little good in Hud. He shows Hud for the swaggering, self-serving, mean-spirited bully that he is. Lonnie knows Hud despises Homer, and realizing that their isn't much he can do about it. So, while Hud spends his time beating up on smaller and weaker men or bedding down married women, Lonnie works hard with his grandfather and a ranch hand named Jesse, admiring and learning from their life experiences. Except for these men, Lonnie's only regular company was the Bannons' young black housekeeper, Halmea. One important aspect of this book was the situation for blacks--and especially young black women--in 1950s Texas. HUD conveniently sidestepped this issue by turning the black woman Halmea into the hillbilly Alma who was played by Patricia Neal. HORSEMAN'S Halmea is as upfront and outspoken as HUD's Alma. But there the similarities mostly end. Where Alma is middle-aged, hard bitten and tired of men's ways, Halmea is younger, vivacious and attractive. She and Lonnie are relatively close, having whatever friendship the Texas of that time would allow to a white teenager and his family's black housekeeper. While it's obvious that Lonnie is sexually attracted to Halmea, his youth and inexperience as much as her candor with such matters keeps him in check. Unfortunately--and tragically, the same can't be said for Hud. The movie might brim with sexual tension between Hud and Alma, but McMurtry

Not the movie, but equally good. . .

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 vision. At the center is Lonnie, the teenager growing up on his grandfather's ranch, and it's through his eyes that we see the cold, self-serving indifference of his uncle Hud. Still a boy, unschooled in much of anything besides the dawn-to-dusk labor of ranch work, Lonnie is no moral center, following his grandfather's example. In many ways, he accepts Hud's violent behavior, his disrespect for the old man, and his ruthless use of women as a kind of norm. In the end, as he leaves the ranch, he takes the first steps toward a life that may well be no more rewarding or purposeful than that of the regretful hired hand Jesse, who gets too drunk to ride his cutting horse in the rodeo.To streamline the story, the film has scaled back or eliminated interesting key characters like Jesse, another ranch hand Lonzo, a neighbor Hank, and a friend Hermy, who is badly injured trying to ride a bull. Also, by casting a white woman in the role of the black cook Halmea (Patricia Neal's Alma), the film sidesteps a racial dimension that the novel brings to the story.So for readers who know and like the film, this is a very different telling of the story and well worth reading. As usual in McMurtry's early novels, there is a richly detailed capturing of character, speech, and setting. He knows these people inside and out, how they think, talk, and behave. He also totally deromanticizes ranch work, representing it as mercilessly hot, dusty, and exhausting. The small-town rodeo, with its drinking, womanizing cowboys, fares little better. I heartily recommend this novel for anyone interested in the rural West and ranching, along with McMurtry's more melancholy but less bleak "Leaving Cheyenne."

A sign of great things to come

McMurtry's first novel is a spare, eloquent evocation of thepassing of the Old West. In its description of the decline and deathof an old rancher, it paints a vivid picture of life on a Texas cattle ranch in the '50s; in his narrator, the teenage grandson of the old rancher, McMurtry captures a voice that gains wisdom with each turn of the page.The novel inspired the Hollywood film "Hud," but McMurtry's work is much the more resonant and disturbing. Woven into the fabric of the novel is the theme of racism, which the movie skirted. Also missing from the film is the sense of melancholy that pervades the book. In the old rancher, Homer Bannon, and in Jesse, the cowboy with wanderlust, McMurtry paints portraits of good, hardworking men who know that their time has passed, to be usurped by the violent Hud, a new kind of Western businessman whose main goal is to make a buck in any way possible.Lonnie's longing to see the world that lies outside the boundary of his grandfather's ranch creates another strain of sadness in the book. McMurtry's descriptions of the wide, open prairies and the ache that these vistas create in the young man are superbly drawn and leanly poetic.McMurtry's economy of language is accompanied by dozens of sharp-eyed observations of rural and small-town life. And in the black maid Halmea, he creates a genuinely sympathetic character who also helps to expose the conflicts within the narrator. While Lonnie likes Halmea immensely, he can not help but see her also as a sexual object. While at times his late adolescent longings are amusing, the conflict comes into sharp relief when Halmea is sexually attacked by Hud, an act observed by Lonnie. In Hud's brutal sexual gratification, Lonnie recognizes a piece of himself.This is a great American novel, one that presaged the many later successes of McMurtry, one of the great contributors to the literature of the modern West.

Maybe McMurtry's best novel

McMurtry's first published novel is maybe his best ever. If you think that Lonesome Dove is classic McMurtry, then you need to read this book. Horseman, Pass By introduced settings, characters, and themes that McMurtry has spent over thirty years defining. The prose is Faulkner dried out on the Texas prarie. The characterization is simple and full. The plot is classic and original. After this book, the reader should see the movie (Hud) and then read about the making of the movie in McMurtry's In a Narrow Grave.
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