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Anything for Billy

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,505 Ratings  ·  99 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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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryThe Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtryThe Berrybender Narratives by Larry McMurtryTerms of Endearment by Larry McMurtryStreets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry
The Best of Larry McMurtry
13th out of 21 books — 31 voters
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Most Orange Books of All Time
239th out of 742 books — 230 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jesse
Nov 25, 2008 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Matthew Dexter
Oct 09, 2015 Matthew Dexter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Billy the Kid will enjoy this account.
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
Nathan
May 21, 2015 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anything for Billy

Ben Sippy a man 45 years old lives in New York city with a wife and 12 kids. He has an extreme passion for dime novels, and has a very large collection of them. Some of them which are his favorites and some that he doesn’t like very much. And one day he goes out for a walk around town to pick up some groceries. When he returns he finds that all his dime novels were missing. He asks the maid if she knew where they went, she said “your wife told me toss the darn things”. Ben was
...more
Nick
Nov 28, 2014 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe
Jun 10, 2014 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Tim
Jan 01, 2016 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing is straight-forward and descriptive, as always with McMurtry. It's a very easy read in that way. He spins the western landscape and towns, so it is easy to imagine the surroundings. This is one of my favorite things about his writing style.

My problem with the book is that Billy is a reprehensible character with essentially no redeeming qualities. Every single other character in the book is better and more interesting, and each character is made worse by their never-ending tolerance o
...more
Charles Bechtel
Jan 17, 2014 Charles Bechtel rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jacquelynn
Feb 29, 2016 Jacquelynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Larry McMurtry, a Pulizter Prize winning American author who has been entertaining readers since the early 1960s with works that take us back to a world where gun-slingers and cattle trails reined supreme and the expansive settings are only matched by the larger than life personas of his characters. In his work, Anything For Billy, McMurtry tells us a tall tale biography of the actual historical figure of Billy the Kid. Told through the eyes of an aristocratic dime store novel enthusiast/author, ...more
Sailco26
Entertaining re-telling of the Billy The Kid story, not quite as dark as some of McMurtry's other works but also seemed to lack some of the richer character development and descriptions of the locales. Still, very enjoyable read.
Robb
Jan 16, 2008 Robb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tom
Apr 24, 2011 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carl
Jun 13, 2016 Carl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Larry McMurty delivers once again.
The characters are always bigger than the storyline and because of the rich depth of characterisation the story moves along at a slow trot.
This is a good thing as it carries the reader along enabling them to meet each character and flesh them out. Tighter written than Lonesome Dove and a lot less sprawling the reader is immersed in the lives and relationships between Billy Bone and the dime novelist Mr Sippy. The latter comes with his own backstory .
The Wild W
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Eugene Caputi
May 11, 2012 Eugene Caputi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, not so good in my mind. Lots of action explained with dialogue. I hate that.
Vicky
Worst book I ever read and finished. Historically inaccurate. Boring..
Jamie
May 12, 2012 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-wild-west
Pure fiction, and pure fun.
David
Mar 25, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Elliott Walsh
Aug 12, 2012 Elliott Walsh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Patrick
May 04, 2008 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: larry-mcmurtry
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
Jun 16, 2015 Paula Dembeck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Colette
"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
Regan Sharp
Aug 31, 2012 Regan Sharp rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: westerns, guns
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.
Chuck
May 18, 2013 Chuck rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dollie
Apr 24, 2016 Dollie rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry sure does create great characters and he created a few of them in this story about Billy Bone. It's told by a man, Ben Sippy, who writes short novelettes about the West and goes from his home in Philadelphia out to the real West. He meets cowboys, drunks, whores, and all sorts of interesting and not-so-interesting people. I don't know if there was any truth to this story at all but it was definitely a good read.
Jack
Feb 15, 2015 Jack rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author had me for the first few pages, but after 10 or 15 more of the same, I lost interest. It did not seem to be going anywhere I might want to go...in a novel.
Canda Mitchell
Mar 27, 2015 Canda Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A look at the psyche of Billy the Kid. Not a sympathetic portrait but an examination of his short life and events that led up to his death.
Richard
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
Alan Lemke
If you like McMurtry, you'll love this. A historical novel about one of the most infamous gunmen of the Old West.
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

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
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