Horseman, Pass By Book Review

2 out of 5 stars

Horseman, Pass by with a quote box

“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.” 

You ever read a book recommended by others or just because its the book club pick of the month? This is how I came across Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry. Western Fiction is a genre I never knew existed and would have never come across had it not been for the Cahuenga Library’s Book Club.

I read this alongside other books that I was reading and decided to read it a chapter a day just to get through it. The beginning was great and I loved how the cattle disease was inserted into the book. When I read the excerpt of the book it mentions a terrible cattle disease and instantly I was excited about reading this book. You see I love anything about viruses and diseases and when authors seamlessly use one to add to their plot I need to read it.

Larry McMurtry does a great job of giving you a picture of life on a Texas ranch back in the Old West. I loved how descriptive every paragraph was and how elaborate each scene was. Even though the chapters were short and the book is short it has a lot packed in.

What I failed to do was really connect with any of the characters. I was waiting for the moment that I would care for characters the way that I always have with everything that I read but that moment never came for me. In fact I wasn’t even able to hate the character that did a lot of bad stuff because I didn’t feel for the characters that his actions were affecting.

Not being able to connect with the characters made this a hard book to get through. I wish that there was some character development or a plot that I could follow past the cattle disease which is resolved half way through the book. It could also be that I wasn’t able to relate to it and maybe people who grew up in Texas or on a ranch might have more of a connection to this book.

I do think that this was a good read when you take into consideration that this his McMurtry’s first book and that the things he writes after this get better. I now need to get my hands on the film Hud so I can see if that might make me appreciate this book a little more.

About the Book:

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of LonesomeDovecomes 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 frontier values of honesty and decency, and Hud, his unscrupulous stepson. Caught in the middle is the narrator, Homer’s young grandson Lonnie, who is as much drawn to his grandfather’s strength of character as he is to Hud’s hedonism and materialism. 

When first published in 1961, Horseman, Pass By caused a sensation in Texas literary circles for its stark, realistic portrayal of the struggles of a changing West in the years following World War II. Never before had a writer managed to encapsulate its environment with such unsentimental realism. Today, memorable characters, powerful themes, and illuminating detail make Horseman, Pass By vintage McMurtry. 

About Larry McMurtry:

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-series.

Among many other accolades, in 2006 he was the co-winner of both the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Brokeback Mountain.” 

What is something you have read and finished because you felt obligated to?

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