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Anything for Billy

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  2,548 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
The first time I saw Billy he came walking out of a cloud....Welcome to the wild, hot-blooded adventures of Billy the Kid, the American West's most legendary outlaw. Larry McMurtry takes us on a hell-for-leather journey with Billy and his friends as they ride, drink, love, fight, shoot, and escape their way into the shining memories of Western myth. Surrounded by a splendi ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1988)
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Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtryTrue Grit by Charles PortisBlood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthyAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Best Westerns
155th out of 757 books — 999 voters
We Got Zombies On The Lawn Again, Ma by Donnie  SmithGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellBridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerLife of Pi by Yann Martel
Colorful Characters You Want to Read About
98th out of 102 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 25, 2008 Jesse rated it it was amazing
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
Matthew Dexter
Oct 09, 2015 Matthew Dexter rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 29, 2016 Jacquelynn rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2014 Joe rated it did not like it
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
Shayne Reynolds
Jun 29, 2010 Shayne Reynolds is currently reading it
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
May 21, 2015 Nathan rated it really liked it
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
Nov 28, 2014 Nick rated it liked it
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
Gary Power
Aug 24, 2016 Gary Power rated it it was amazing
This was my first Larry McMurtry book. I didn't realize it was going to be picaresque ... it was. I found it a real page-turner with lots of tiny chapters and cliffhangers. The characters are funny particularly the protagonist Ben Sippy and his self centered glory hunting and trigger happy subject Billy The Kid. Don't expect to learn anything new about Billy the kid unless and if you don't already know that he was a young Irish New York outlaw. The story is driven by incident and is often fantas ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Tim rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 30, 2015 Sailco26 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 16, 2008 Robb rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 24, 2011 Tom rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 13, 2016 Carl rated it it was amazing
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
Eugene Caputi
May 11, 2012 Eugene Caputi rated it did not like it
Ah, not so good in my mind. Lots of action explained with dialogue. I hate that.
Dec 25, 2011 Vicky added it
Worst book I ever read and finished. Historically inaccurate. Boring..
May 12, 2012 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: the-wild-west
Pure fiction, and pure fun.
Mar 25, 2014 David rated it really liked it
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
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,
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
May 08, 2014 Frank Cavanaugh rated it it was ok
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
Jul 07, 2016 Paula Dembeck rated it really liked it
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
Apr 30, 2016 Colette rated it liked it
"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
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
May 15, 2014 Keith Bell rated it liked it
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.
May 18, 2013 Chuck rated it it was ok
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
Apr 24, 2016 Dollie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 15, 2015 Jack rated it did not like it
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 a novel.
Canda Mitchell
Mar 27, 2015 Canda Mitchell rated it really liked it
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.
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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
More about Larry McMurtry...

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