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Anything for Billy

3.5  ·  Rating details ·  2,709 Ratings  ·  111 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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Oct 22, 2008 marked it as 3-read-fiction
Sure, I'm in a wild-west phase. It's easing my slow withdrawal from my own desert life as a wilderness guide.

"Anything For Billy" is good literature.
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 ecstatic for it. Joy, j
Matthew Dexter
Aug 26, 2013 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.
Apr 24, 2011 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.
Eugene Caputi
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ah, not so good in my mind. Lots of action explained with dialogue. I hate that.
Feb 08, 2016 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 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 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
Jan 13, 2008 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.
Feb 19, 2015 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.
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-wild-west
Pure fiction, and pure fun.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A so-so book. If it was written with a lot of sarcasm, I probably wouldn't have finished it.
A quick read though.
Dec 25, 2011 added it
Worst book I ever read and finished. Historically inaccurate. Boring..
Mar 09, 2008 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
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The first time I saw Billy, he came walking out of a cloud..." I love the legend of Billy the Kid and Larry McMurtry's version of him doesn't dissapoint. The story is narrated by a dime novel author from Philadelphia who heads out to the Old West to gain some experience for his books. He meets up with Billy and follows him, mostly, on some high flying, cold blooded killing, women chasing adventures. This book has everything a Western needs such as Cowboys, horses, wagon trains, train robberies, ...more
Fenil Ganatra
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was engaging, funny and amazingly vivid. I loved everything about it, the language, the story. However, I felt like there's wasn't exactly a takeaway for me except Billy's life (which I frankly am not a fan of). But then not all books are supposed to have a takeaway. As long as you're having a ball reading it, any book is a rippin' yarn.

I hope I can soon get my hands on McMurtry's Pulitzer prize winner Lonesome Dove.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another excellent novel of the American West by the peerless Larry McMurtry. Not quite as essential as Lonesome Dove, but a great book, nonetheless. It was a little slow to start, though the pages breeze by easily enough, then about 100 or so pages in I was hooked. This novel has a melancholy feel to it, a bittersweet farewell to the wild west. It also has everything else that McMurtry does so well, humor, adventure, excellent characters. A great book, highly recommended.
Mike Morgado
Jul 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
I honestly thought I would enjoy this book but I didn't. The character was unlikable and I found the story boring. I found it a chore to finish.
May 20, 2015 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
John Guffey
Anything for Billy felt like a knock off of Comanche Moon except Anything for Billy was written first. The characters weren't well drawn out, and it was anti-climactic. It may have been anti-climactic because it tried to be more factual, but I don't think that was the goal.
Charles Bechtel
Jan 17, 2014 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
Nov 28, 2014 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
Mar 22, 2013 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
Jul 31, 2012 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,
Gary Power
Aug 19, 2016 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
Paula Dembeck
Jul 03, 2013 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
Jan 01, 2016 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
May 18, 2013 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
Regan Sharp
Aug 28, 2012 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
Feb 11, 2014 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
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Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-serie
More about Larry McMurtry...

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