Book Review: Horseman, Pass By – Larry McMurtry

Title: Horseman, Pass By
Author: Larry McMurtry
Published: 1961
Genre: Historical Fiction – Western

Summary: 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.

My Rating: 8igbk4dbt8igbk4dbt8igbk4dbt

And I finally get to my last western. I cannot express how happy I was to end this class. I got a 94.6 on the class so I made out solid but still, it was painful. On to the review!

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 themes in this book including racism, sexual assault, changing societal views, alcoholism, murder and coming of age. Overall, this is a solid story, we have the cattle of Homer getting sick and the unraveling of Lonnie’s young life as the tension over their loss of fortune crumbles around them. His desire for the older Halmea is pure (if one-sided) but Hud’s violent character destroys everything around him including Halmea and Homer. Lonnie is always on the outside as an observer. He’s not as brave and decisive as Hud and Hud and Homer’s larger than life persona stomp all over his developing one. I loved that McMurtry truly gives Halmea a voice to state that is wrong with America and their treatment of blacks. He made her bright and vibrant, full of fun, Lonnie can’t help but want her and desire her. It brings all the men in the ranch to her but it never gives her power because of what she is and this is definitely a critique of the times.

Despite my rating, I highly encourage you to give it a try if you’ve been thinking of picking up a Western, let me know what you think. I also think that upon a reread I will enjoy this far more than I did.


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