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Anything for Billy

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,022 ratings  ·  134 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 ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Simon Schuster (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,022 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was realistic enough to give me saddle sores and enjoyable enough I didn't notice.
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,
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.
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.
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Pure fiction, and pure fun.
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.
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.
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 ...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 ...more
Shelly Mundy
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
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Dec 25, 2011 added it
Worst book I ever read and finished. Historically inaccurate. Boring..
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.
Nov 22, 2019 rated it liked it
This book reads like a marriage of that dignified grandfather of all Westerns, Owen Wister's THE VIRGINIAN, and McMurtry's farcical Berrybender novels. ANYTHING FOR BILLY features an Eastern greenhorn for a narrator, but one whose language and droll way of expressing things is truly comical. His tale of meeting Billy the Kid and traveling the New Mexico Territory with him is entertaining. But I particularly enjoyed the language. McMurtry's skill in adopting the archaic writing style of a ...more
Barry (she/her)
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
McNurtry lays out his fictionalized account of the famous boy outlaw's final escapades through the eyes of Mr Sippy, an author who grew tired of his domestic life and sought the adventure of the wild west. He and the reader become entangled in a dynasty which seems to be everywhere they turn. The drama taking place is enormous is spatial scale and apparent stakes, and somehow underwhelming in it's most climatic moments. It was a simple enough book featuring simple enough men; the narrator, ...more
Peter B
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
The narrator is a very successful and wealthy writer of dime and half-dime novels who becomes disenchanted with his wife Dora and the large number of daughters he is not sure how he fathered as his relationship is pretty dysfunctional. He is also a reader of every dime novel he can find and when Dora tosses them all out he leaves to go out west where he tries to rob a train but is unable to make it stop to be robbed. He then runs into the outlaw Billy Bones by whom he is befriended. The novel ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars out of 5 - I read a hardbound from the library over the past couple of evenings. This is a bit of a strange one, even for McMurtry. An Easterner who writes dime novels runs into Billy Bone and his loyal cowboy friend while lost in the West. He amuses Billy and is allowed to tag along as the young fellow later known as Billy the Kid carries out the killing spree, some outright murder and some self defense of at least a stretched sort, which makes him famous before he is finally gunned ...more
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
Jan 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. The history lover in me is disappointed. This is a very fictionalized version of the Billy the Kid legend.

However, this is literature. Although the subject of the books seems to be Billy, the main character is really Ben Sippy who goes west AFTER a successful career writing dime novels set in the West.

What we really learn is how completely different the surviving legends are from what the real truth may have been. The immature, even naive, kid who is not
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.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Larry McMurtry just has such a way with writing humanity. It’s funny, it’s not funny at all. It’s sweet, it’s sad. People are weird, and they do what humans do. They follow their heart, they make mistakes; they plan carefully, they act impulsively; they win, they lose. They take the path they must, and for some odd reason, it’s only those around them that can really see the pot holes ahead. I love Larry McMurtry.
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.
Tomi Alger
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ben Sippy writes dime novels of the West, but he comes down to New Mexico and experiences the real West as he travels with Billy Bone (the Kid) and Joe Lovelady. They meet a wide cast of characters and Billy's actions begin the legend of his life. I can see why McMurty is a Pulitzer Prize Winning author.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn. Billy is one frustrating son of bitch, his own worst enemy and still held in the kindest and highest regards by those close to him. After everything.
The book was wonderfully written, like all McMurtrys western yarns -- but dern.
It'll either make you or break you.

Enjoy it. You'll never read it for the first time again.
Carrie Garza
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not what I was expecting. This is a different take on the life of Billy the Kid. Ben Sippy, a dime novelist, falls in with Billy quite unintentionally. He recounts the rise of the legend and his innocuous death in a first person account. This tale is more believable than most.
David Gagen
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gem of a novel, so full of interesting characters. It reminded me of why I fell in love with the Lonesome Dove series, this has the same fatalistic tone but shaped by such beautiful writing.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fairly low-stakes western, low complexity but reasonably well done.
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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
“Por que siempre ha sido propio el amor que después de los besos vengan los suspiros.” 0 likes
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