Anything for Billy

Anything for Billy

3.8 7
by Larry McMurtry, Wolfram Kandinsky
     
 

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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… See more details below

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780736615365
Publisher:
Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date:
04/15/1989
Edition description:
Unabridged, 8 Cassettes

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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What People are saying about this

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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