Horseman, Pass By : A Novel
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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 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.
He had shaved that morning, and had on a clean shirt and a fresh blue pair of Levis. “That’ll be fine with us. When you-all get done with ’em we may work a few of these calves, if that ain’t against the law.” “No, sir,” Mr. Burris said. “You do what you want to with ’em. We’re ready to get to work if you are.” We all turned our horses and rode into the dusty lots. First we separated into two lines of horsemen and let the cattle trickle between us, so we could count them. Then we cut them up
get cool. The merchants were closing up their businesses and walking home to supper. Old Man Hurshel Jones was out watering his lawn, and he waved when he saw our pickup go by. He was an old ex-cowboy who put in his days in the domino parlor; he had worked for Granddad at one time. We crossed the railroad tracks and saw the switchman’s little girl out wading in a mud puddle, where the water main had leaked. “Wet plumb up to her Adam’s apple,” Hud said. He drove on out of town, past the junk yard,
the gunners cleared their magazines. Then it was silent and hot. Jesse was on his horse, at the third pit; he was talking to Hank Hutch. I rode by him on my way to the barn, and heard him talking in a watery voice, but what he said got away from me. Hank loped up beside me before I got to the barn, and we rode in together. “Didn’t take long,” I said. He was the quietest I’d ever seen him. “Don’t take very long to kill things,” he said. “Not like it takes to grow.” The rest of the men rode up
his mouth. Before I could tell him, we all heard the loud moaning whistle of the train, coming across the plains from the south. “He’s out watching that carcass,” I said. “Granddad wants the vet to look at it before it gets scattered.” Halmea had pulled up a chair, and was busy crumbling the cold yellow corn bread into her buttermilk. When she had enough crumbled up, she stirred it around with her spoon. “You-all hollah when you need somethin’,” she said. “I went by and seen Hank Hutch for a
felt like I would gag again, but inside I was all dry and hot, like I had fever. Hud was looking into the pickup headlights, stretching his hands out toward them like the lights were a fire and it was winter. “Lonnie,” he said. “No shit, it was the best thing. The pore old worn-out bastard.” “But he woulda been,” I said. “It woulda been all right, he woulda got well. I needed him.” I started to pull the jacket off and look at Granddad’s face, but I didn’t. Hud came around in front of me and