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Anything for Billy

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  2,264 ratings  ·  90 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 McCarthyBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Best Westerns
140th out of 621 books — 805 voters
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Fictionalized accounts of real people
66th out of 126 books — 51 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,949)
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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
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.
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
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
Jun 10, 2014 Joe rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
Dec 25, 2011 Vicky added it
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
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
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.
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.
I really loved this book. Such a creative perspective from an outsider. Well written and well enjoyed.
I was only going to give four stars, but there were Great Pyrenees dogs.
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
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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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