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Anything for Billy

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  2,194 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Breathtaking tale of excitement, capturing the lore and life of the old West, which tells of Billy the Kid.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 1991 by Pocket Books (first published 1988)
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Sure, I'm in a wild-west phase. It's easing my slow withdrawal from my own desert life as a wilderness guide.

I'm shocked at what good literature "Anything For Billy" is.
Read it flying through the air over the sagey deserts east of Phoenix. Look down between pages and think about what it was like to bump along over the gullys of New Mexico on a sweaty horse swatting flys. No 5 dollar snack boxes, just the occasional stringy jackrabbit or feathers-in-your-teeth Prairie Chicken - and they were ecs
Shayne Reynolds
Jun 29, 2010 Shayne Reynolds is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Im a huge Wild West fan and i love the country style of life .I have a very strong fascination for Billy the kid in particular .... but this book is so boring.It tries to show you a side of billy that you would never be told otherwise .... but sadly at least till now it does not really tell you why he was so different from any other outlaw. He is just out there wondering why people do things the way they do it and finds it amusing ... in fact he seems so perplexed many a times. Im not enjoying t ...more
Once I was a fan, but in the last few years I have been taking a voluntary vacation from Larry McMurtry books. The last few I read were characterized by an overwhelming nonchalance on the part of all the major characters. Everything is just a big joke to them. They lose friends, loved ones, limbs, even their lives--and joke while it all happens. Nothing seems to be real. Yes, as a writer McMurtry is always entertaining, particularly in the dialogue, but the stories lack emotional impact. In his ...more
Anything For Billy is a fictional account of the final months in the life of Billy The Kid, i.e. it is not true historical fiction, but then it never claims to be. The story is told by a well to do Philadelphian, Benjamin Sippy, in very short chapters, a la James Patterson. “Sippy”, after becoming obsessed with “Wild West” dime-novels, becomes the very successful author of such books and one day – bored with his life and wife – heads out West, meets up with “The Kid”, and begins traveling with h ...more
Charles Bechtel
Jan 17, 2014 Charles Bechtel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like good stories
Eventually all good yarn-spinners will write a darn good yarn, and Larry McMurtry's "Anything For Billy" is a darn, darn good yarn. In the metaphor, these kinds of tales get born, honed and perfected over a thousand campfires, a thousand thousand beers or cups of dark coffee. They get laved by a hundred tongues until each word in them is a fit for a tongue like a thousand dollar pair of shoes are for the feet. Then along comes a fellow who can write, which requires more than the ability to hold ...more
"Men don't go crazy from reading books," Billy observed skeptically. "You was probably crazy anyway, Sippy." This was my first McMurtry book, and well, I was disappointed. McMurtry seemed like one of those writers that had stories that yearned to be told. Yet this book was made up of strange coincidences that do not seem to be based in any reality. I am not sure why the book was historically inaccurate, especially considering the author chose an actual picture of Billy the Kid for the cover. Per ...more
First book that made me cry. I remember the last couple of pages being so sentimental, my 15 year old self couldn't keep it in. Someday I will reread, but I don't really want to spoil my memory of it.
Daniel B
Nov 12, 2014 Daniel B rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Larry McMurtry's writing.
With Lonesome Dove I wanted to be a cowhand. With this book I wanted to be an outlaw. You know an author is good when you have to write down some words to look them up in the dictionary. There's a sentence in the book (I forgot how it actually goes) that says everybody dreams of another life...even nuns. It's a really good book that anyone could relate to: the brash and defiant, the ones who have lost hope, the ones who don't know where their place is, and the ones who feel blue to the point of ...more
Matthew Dexter
The cover alone is sick. Ill as fuck. I am the #15 book reviewer. Billy the Kid is brought to life here and all legit fans of Bily the Kid will enjoy this account.
I expected a more interesting read from the author of Lonesome Dove. It's not a typical western, and it paints an odd picture of the life of Billy the Kid.
Eugene Caputi
Ah, not so good in my mind. Lots of action explained with dialogue. I hate that.
Worst book I ever read and finished. Historically inaccurate. Boring..
Pure fiction, and pure fun.
He enters the story through a cloud and leaves in the all-revealing clarity of the New Mexico sun. In a few hundred pages of humorous, unaffecting narrative, the myth of one of the West's most infamous killer is laid bare.

Told from the point of view of a dime novel writer drawn Westward looking for adventure, we as readers are thrust into his shoes as consumers of the Western myth: He acts as our intermediary between the West and our own world - a writer, and creater of the Western Ideal. By the
Elliott Walsh
McMurtry's books have never disappointed me. I picked up this and another, 'Buffalo Girls', at a flea market last month, without any sense of when they'd been written, and simply tucked into them one after the other. They were a well-chosen pair, in that both novels are concerned with converting the histories of rather unpalatable people into characters in a story worth reading, but with greater honesty than the dime novels of the early 20th century.

In 'Anything for Billy', McMurtry's narrator,
This is McMurtry's fictional take on the Western outlaw Billy the Kid. Seen through the first person narration of a wealthy and civilized pulp novelist who just happened to fall in with Billy The Kid just around the start of the adventures (and killings) that made him famous, Billy is portrayed sympathetically as a troubled but engaging young man who has a tendency to cold-bloodedly murder anyone whom he takes offense to. He is also easily manipulated by those who would seek to take advantage of ...more
Frank Cavanaugh
Well if you want a totally different take on the Wild West outlaws and especially "Billy the Kid" it is worth a read. Not fast paced but interesting enough. Never became clear to me what the magnetism was that caused the relationships described. None were truly longstanding but most were deep enough to risk life and limb. The author is writing from the perspective of a writer. Sounds odd but it helps make some of the connections and insights work.
Paula Dembeck
A novel about the life of Billy the Kid, who first appeared as a seventeen year old with a reputation for violence that far exceeded his actual ferocity. The story covers Billy’s erratic, purposeless journey through the Wild West, told through the eyes of Ben Sippy, a dime store novel writer who has fled his comfortable life in Philadelphia to become Billy’s companion. We also meet a whole cast of characters : Joe Lovelady, a cowboy with morals and purpose; Will Issinglass, a patriarchal ruler o ...more
Regan Sharp
The actual photo of Billy the Kid on the cover of this book seems inappropriate. Not much in the way of accurate history feeds into this tale. The main character is an author of dime novels and McMurtry is clearly creating his own fanciful version of the famous outlaw (although not a version that I found very likable, nor was I actually ever able to understand why other characters were so fond of him.) It's a swift, light enjoyable western romp that gives an idea of how myths are made and sugges ...more
Keith Bell
Don't read this if you are looking for the historical Billy the Kid. A great story on it's own with parallels to the real story if you know it well enough. Think more along the dime novel type of book. Quick and fun with a McMurtry twist.
I picked this book up because I thought it was a historical novel based on the life of Billy the Kid. Wrong. It is a historical fantasy. A wealthy dime novel author from Philadelphia leaves his wife and nine daughters to go west simply because he is fascinated by his perception of the "Western" life style. He meets up with Bill Bone, not William H. Bonney, whom he dubs Billy the Kid as their relationship matures. Thus we begin a journey consisting mostly of dull dialog concerning killing and dea ...more
in a flush of wanting to know everything about billy the kidd i gave this a whirl. not my style or cup of tea, hence the 2 stars
I absolutely adore this book. I'm a fan of outlaws in general and Billy the Kid is one of my favorites. This book does a good job of capturing Billy's youth, both his innocence and inexperience. As events unfold, the reader gets a real sense of how things spiraled out of Billy's control.

I plan to reread this soon and will write a longer review then. One of my favorite quotes from this book is something Billy tells Pat Garrett: "Sometimes I just wish they'd let me fall." To me that line perfectly
Mc Murtry reinvents the legend of Billy The Kid, and it falls flat.
I've had this book on my shelves for many years, but finally got around to picking it up.

It was wonderful. "Anything For Billy" is a truly bittersweet reimagining of the Billy The Kid story and a picture of the American West that is heartbreaking in it's beauty, violence, and yearning.

The narrator, Ben Sippy, is a marvel. The remarkable thing about the story is that as he narrates this story about "Billy Bone" we come to realize that the story isn't about Billy, it's about him.

I highly recomm
Scott Hermann
Compact, sometimes strangely shallow feeling western tracing the supposedly true story of the life and death of Billy The Kid as told by a dime-novelist acquaintance on the scene. More about the narrator's sense of futility and pointlessness having witness his own and other lives that seems to be lived in fogs of randomness despite epiphanies, insights, or passing attempts to create change, purpose or conscious action. Billy is a murderous idiot and it's hard to understand why everyone seems to ...more
Sarah Sandfort Schultz
I'm a huge McMurtry fan. I liked this book bc I like the whole cowboys/Wild West thing, but this was not McMurtry's best. Still, it was clever (it's basically about Billy the Kid, but gives a kind of funny spin on who Billy really was, and is written from the perspective of a Philadelphia businessman that supposedly burned out on his wife and many daughters and abandoned them for an adventure in the West). Definitely worth reading if you are a McMurtry fan, but otherwise not a good introduction ...more
Ray Grasshoff
Loosely based on events -- some no doubt very fictitious -- leading to the death of young gunslinger Billy the Kid, known otherwise in the book as Billy Bone, this isn't McMurtry at his best. Too many characters, some relatively minor but all with odd, rather comical names, roam the expanse of New Mexico and surrounding lands, strangely finding each other now and again out of nowhere amid thousands of square miles of southwestern desert country. It's a decent read, but don't pay full price for i ...more
Kevin Lucia
So the writing was excellent, it was sad, funny, poignant...but honestly, I want my legendary Billy the Kid. This was a reinvention that AT least followed the known story, however, through a sort of "mirror universe" view - but instead of the Star Trek "evil universe", this was a silly, goofy, moronic kind of universe. Again, excellent writing - but part of the fun of fiction is making stuff up, so I WANT my mythic Billy. Not a bumbling, goofy, immature accidental legend..
While McMurtry's skill as a writer carried me along and the book was not a labor to finish I have to say it stood in stark contrast to McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses or McMurtry's own Last Picture Show. Every character in this book is in the sway of Billy the Kid. Billy himself is depicted as a deranged, unwashed dolt completely undeserving of the attentions lavished on him and completely without wit or honor.

In short I am sorry I read this.
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Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was adapted into the film "Hud".

McMurty went on to publish many more novels, a number of which went on to become movies as well as a TV mini-series.
More about Larry McMurtry...
Lonesome Dove Terms of Endearment The Last Picture Show Streets of Laredo Comanche Moon

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