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Anything for Billy

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Overview

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 splendid cast of characters that only Larry McMurtry could create, Billy charges headlong toward his fate, to become in death the unforgettable ...
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Anything for Billy

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Overview

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 splendid cast of characters that only Larry McMurtry could create, Billy charges headlong toward his fate, to become in death the unforgettable desperado he aspires to be in life. Not since Lonesome Dove has there been such a rich, exciting novel about the cowboys, Indians, and gunmen who live at the blazing heart of the American dream.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This fictional memoir of Billy the Kid is told through the eyes of an alien trite simile?gs Eastern writer who just happened to be along for the ride, saw it all and aims to set the record straight. ``The tale of random violence, unlikely romance and quicksilver friendships in the old West is a rip-roaring gamble with a tear in its eye, and it pays off in spades.'' stated PW . Nov.
Library Journal
McMurtry's Billy the Kid (here called Billy Bone) is superstitious, mercurial, a poor marksman, and yet known as one of the West's deadliest gunmen. It is this reputation that will determine how Billy will live and die. His story is told by Ben Sippy, a Philadelphia blueblood and author of Wild West dimestore novels, who has abandoned his aloof, adulterous wife and nine daughters to try his talent at train robbery in New Mexico. McMurtry spoofs both the reality of the Wild West and the legends it spawned. Less epical than the popular Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove ( LJ 7/1/85), this novel is just as entertaining and peopled with equally beguiling characters. McMurtry drills a bull's eye, proving that he is among the most versatile of our writers.Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
From the Publisher
Time Anything for Billy does for the gunfighter what Lonesome Dove did for the trail-driving cowboy...wistful appeal, larger-than-life characters.

USA Today One of McMurtry's best...Stunning.

The Seattle Times Storytelling at its best, the West at its fiercest, and McMurtry in his prime.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606003483
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 10/1/1989
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Larry McMurtry

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. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Biography

Back in the late 60s, the fact that Larry McMurtry was not a household name was really a thorn in the side of the writer. To illustrate his dissatisfaction with his status, he would go around wearing a T-shirt that read "Minor Regional Novelist." Well, more than thirty books, two Oscar-winning screenplays, and a Pulitzer Prize later, McMurtry is anything but a minor regional novelist.

Having worked on his father's Texas cattle ranch for a great deal of his early life, McMurtry had an inborn fascination with the West, both its fabled history and current state. However, he never saw himself as a life-long rancher and aspired to a more creative career. He achieved this at the age of 25 when he published his first novel. Horseman, Pass By was a wholly original take on the classic western. Humorous, heartbreaking, and utterly human, this story of a hedonistic cowboy in contemporary Texas was a huge hit for the young author and even spawned a major motion picture starring Paul Newman called Hud just two years after its 1961 publication. Extraordinarily, McMurtry was even allowed to write the script, a rare honor for such a novice.

With such an auspicious debut, it is hard to believe that McMurtry ever felt as though he'd been slighted by the public or marginalized as a minor talent. While all of his books may not have received equal attention, he did have a number of astounding successes early in his career. His third novel The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age-in-the-southwest story, became a genuine classic, drawing comparisons to J. D. Salinger and James Jones. In 1971, Peter Bogdonovich's screen adaptation of the novel would score McMurtry his first Academy award for his screenplay. Three years later, he published Terms of Endearment, a critically lauded urban family drama that would become a hit movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine in 1985.

That year, McMurtry published what many believe to be his definitive novel. An expansive epic sweeping through all the legends and characters that inhabited the old west, Lonesome Dove was a masterpiece. All of the elements that made McMurtry's writing so distinguished -- his skillful dialogue, richly drawn characters, and uncanny ability to establish a fully-realized setting -- convened in this Pulitzer winning story of two retired Texas rangers who venture from Texas to Montana. The novel was a tremendous critical and commercial favorite, and became a popular miniseries in 1989.

Following the massive success of Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry's prolificacy grew. He would publish at least one book nearly every year for the next twenty years, including Texasville, a gut-wrenching yet hilarious sequel to The Last Picture Show, Buffalo Girls, a fictionalized account of the later days of Calamity Jane, and several non-fiction titles, such as Crazy Horse.

Interestingly, McMurtry would receive his greatest notoriety in his late 60s as the co-screenwriter of Ang Lee's controversial film Brokeback Mountain. The movie would score the writer another Oscar and become one of the most critically heralded films of 2005. The following year he published his latest novel. Telegraph Days is a freewheeling comedic run-through of western folklore and surely one of McMurtry's most inventive stories and enjoyable reads. Not bad for a "minor regional novelist."

Good To Know

A miniseries based on McMurtry's novel Comanche Moon is currently in production. McMurtry co-wrote the script.

The first-printing of McMurtry's novel In a Narrow Grave is one of his most obscure for a rather obscure reason. The book was withdrawn because the word "skyscrapers" was misspelled as "skycrappers" on page 105.

McMurtry comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers. His father and eight of his uncles were all in the profession.

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    1. Hometown:
      Archer City, Texas
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 3, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita Falls, Texas
    1. Education:
      B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

Read an Excerpt

from Part One: 3

Joe Lovelady set a smart pace, cloud or no cloud. Rosy didn't appreciate it, but she was tired of living the lonely life with me and did her best to keep up for company's sake. Billy's horse was so tall it was like following a giraffe.

I don't think Billy much cared for horseback travel. His reputation was made in the Territory, but to me he had the look of a city boy — and in fact he had been born on the Bowery in New York and brought West as a baby. Something of the Bowery had stuck to him, even so.

Before we had been traveling an hour, he got bored enough to drop back and make a little conversation.

"We could all break our necks trying to follow Joe Lovelady in a fog like this," he remarked rather petulantly.

Finally we got down below the cloud and saw the great plain stretching away. By noon we had got pretty well out of the Sierra Oscura, but Joe Lovelady evidently had no intention of stopping for lunch. I began to realize that he behaved with a certain relentlessness when it came to getting where he was going.

I suggested to Billy that we might stop and try to scare up a bite in Tularosa, but Billy immediately vetoed that.

"There are plenty of unkind sons of bitches in Tularosa," he informed me.

By midafternoon I had begun to feel a little desperate. Greasy Corners, our destination, I knew of only by hearsay. It was said to be a den of whores and cutthroats, but that part didn't worry me. Most of the local settlements were dens of whores and cutthroats.

My own hope was to find one a little closer. Greasy Corners was somewhere on the Rio Pecos — at least one hundred and fifty miles from where we hit the plain. I knew Rosy well enough to know she wasn't going to tolerate Joe Lovelady's pace for any one hundred and fifty miles. She was a mule with a lot of balk in her. I was not looking forward to being left on that vast empty plain with a stalled mule.

Besides, I was starving. By midafternoon I had begun to scrape little curls of leather off my saddle with my fingernails, just to have something in my mouth.

Billy Bone seemed a little gaunt too.

"You wouldn't have a biscuit, would you, Mr. Sippy?" he asked at one point.

I shook my head. "Do you think your friend will consider stopping for supper?" I asked.

"No, and if we did stop I don't see what there'd be to eat," he said.

"I've got a headache," he added in a sad tone. "If you don't have a biscuit you probably don't have a pill, either."

But I did have a pill — a bottle of them, in fact. I had bought them in Galveston a few months before and forgotten about them. They were just general pills, about the size of marbles and guaranteed to cure a wide range of diseases. I dug them out of my saddlebag and poured Billy Bone a handful.

"Let's just eat them," I said. "They're just general pills. It's better than starving."

Billy didn't say anything, but he gave me a kind of quizzical, grateful look. It may be that my sharing those Galveston pills sealed our friendship.

We rode out on the plain, munching the big pills. After he'd eaten about thirty, Billy got tickled.

"I may get so healthy I'll fall off this horse," he said, but before he could get any healthier we saw Joe Lovelady racing this way and that, whipping at something with his rope.

"Prairie chickens," Billy said. "He's good at catching prairie chickens. Joe just whacks them down with his rope."

That indicated to me that Mr. Lovelady was at last thinking of his stomach, which proved to be the case. That night we feasted on four fat hens, and our troubles seemed to be over. The big pills had left Billy and me with gaseous stomachs, and we did a lot of belching, which Joe Lovelady, an unfailingly polite man, did his best to ignore. Billy tended to linger over his belching, as kids will — some of his better productions gave the horses a start.

While we were polishing prairie chicken bones, Joe Lovelady suddenly looked at me and smiled — his first smile since we met.

"I know who you are," he said. "Sippy. You're that Yankee who don't know how to rob trains."

"Hey!" Billy said. "Are you that Sippy?"

I had to admit I was. My own little reputation had caught up with me again.

Copyright © 1988 by Larry McMurtry

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Picture on the cover is misleading

    McMurtry is as always entertaining and a great story teller. The cover picture shown is that of Billy the Kid, AKA Henry Antrim. The story is totally fictional, that of Billy Bone and the narrator, by the name of Sippy, and bears little resemblance to the life of Billy the Kid other than that it is set in the eastern half of the state of New Mexico. Thus my only quarrel is the use of the cover picture to advertise the book. It is a fun read -- I would buy the DVD, were it made into a movie. Violent, and a bit bloody for less than a PG13 rating -- quite graphic in some places.

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  • Posted November 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I'd guessed.

    I remember I got this book in high school and it wasn't anything like I thought it would be. Larry McMurtry sketches an entirely vulnerable portrait of anti-hero Billy the Kid, from the off-beat perspective of a dime novel writer who befriends Billy on the trail.

    I rather liked the book at the time, which is interesting, because I never could get through Lonesome Dove.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2000

    A wonderful book

    This book is a joy to read and is fun if you know the land that is in. The Set is New Mexico and it is more or less about Billy the kid the outlaw that ran around in New Mexico and who and what ran with him. It is funny and it is a great read if you like to learn thing that are not true about the west and about Billy the Kid.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted March 21, 2010

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    Posted June 20, 2011

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2011

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