This was Larry McMurtry's first novel, written at the age of 25, and is considered a classic by those who consider such things. It was published in 1961. The main character's older stepbrother, Hud, pretty much a jerk, served as the main character in the movie "Hud" and was played by Paul Newman. Not bad for a first novel. (All that info was from Wikipedia.)
As was this:
The title of the novel derives from the last three lines of the poem "Under Ben Bulben" by William Butler Yeats, which are carved on Yeats’s tombstone:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by.
This was the first of what became known as the Thalia trilogy. Thalia is the town in which the books are set. I much preferred McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show" (the third) thus this novel reminded me a lot of it. Maybe I would've liked "Horseman, Pass By" more if I had read it first. That's what I get for reading books out of the order they were written. I guess we'll never know as the Horseman is out of the barn now. See what I did there?
According to Amazon:
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.
I enjoyed the book. It wasn't a cowboy Western. It was more the gritty ranch life of Texas with some dark themes thrown in. Wasn't a pick-me-upper.
One reviewer of the book summed up McMurtry's writing very well: "The author does not telegraph how you are supposed to feel or interpret events. He just depicts events with flesh and blood characters, people whose motives you may partially know, or think you know. But judgment on their choices and actions lays squarely on the reader’s shoulders. McMurtry wants no part of telling you how to take it."
I gave it a 6 of 10 on the Haugenometer. Amazonians a 4.3 of 5.