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Anything for Billy: A Novel Paperback – December 4, 2001

3.5 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anything for Billy is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's affectionate ode to dime novels, Billy the Kid, and the wild, wild West. Benjamin Sippy is a successful but unfulfilled pulp fiction writer who, suffering the throes of midlife crisis, has abruptly fled his stable Philadelphia life, wife and nine daughters in search of the lawless West of his bestselling stories. After a comically abortive attempt at train-robbing, "Mr. Sippy"his name the constant butt of jokeshappens quite by accident upon a cowboy named Joe Lovelady and his sidekick, a kid of 20 named Billy Bone, whose brash unpredictability and one accidental shooting have earned him an undeserved but welcome reputation as a dangerous gunslinger. In the brisk, folksy style of the old-timey dimestore novel, this fictional memoir of Billy the Kid is told through the eyes of a fish-out-of-water Eastern writer who just happened to be along for the ride, saw it all and aims to set the record straight. Barbecue Campbell, Simp Dixon, Katie Garza and all the related characters of Kid lore are here, wonderfully fleshed out and seamlessly blended with McMurtry's own formidable creations. Billy himself is perhaps McMurtry's most vivid inventiona wandering, wide-eyed boy, a one-man gang-who-couldn't-shoot-straight, who kills recklessly and without remorse, mainly to keep pace with his out-of-control reputation. This 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. Paperback rights to Pocket Books; Literary Guild main selection; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Scribner PB Fic ed. edition (December 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743216288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743216289
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. His other works include two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, including the coauthorship of Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award. His most recent novel, When the Light Goes, is available from Simon & Schuster. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a wonderful read! If you are a fan of any of the McMurtry Lonesome Dove series, pick up this book. Although it involves none of the same characters it spins a tale in a similar gritty, adventurous vein. Anything for Billy rivals Lonesome Dove for heart pounding excitement and gut wrenching sorrow.
Meet Billy the Kid,(Or McMurtry's version, anyway) an inexperienced young drifter with a lucky streak a mile wide, an all consuming desire to make a name for himself, and a tragic taste for violence.
Watch the sparks fly when Billy meets Katerina, the beautiful leader of her own band of Mexican outlaws. See Billy tangle with the largest land owner in the west, deadly hired gun men, and vengeful indians, all while he tries to survive his most destructive foe: himself.
Although the book involves a number of colorful characters, Billy is what makes this book so interesting. He is more than just a one dimensional shoot 'em up gunfighter. He's an ambitious kid with his own fears and loves and some very dark problems. He's someone you can root for even if you're not sure why.
Unlike many of McMurtry's other books this one is narrated in first person perspective. The narrator, Sippy, one of Billy's companions, is an east coast, old society gentleman with a penchant for western dime novels. The contrast between the refined narrator and his crude western companions lends a touch of humor to the tale.
Give this book a try. Whether you're a McMurtry western fan or not, this one is hard to put down.
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By A Customer on May 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm only 12 years old, and I've already read almost all of Larry McMurtrys stuff. People think I'm a little "underaged" to be reading this stuff. I don't care, I love his books, so oh well (I don't give a damn what they say). I would DEFINATELY recommend this book, becasue it was interesting, but not always proper like the real world.
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Format: Paperback
This book was so wonderful I doubt I can decribe it. It's about Billy the Kid, Benjamen Sippy and Joe Lovelady. Sippy and Joe are Billy's proctectors and companions. My favorite charictor is Katie Garza. Billy was a little rough for me, but, then again, he was a bit diffrent when he died. Billy's death shocked me, and not all deaths do. What shocked me was not that he died, as anyone who has read the book will know, but HOW he died. This is a great book, that no one should pass up.

-A McMurtry Fan
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not a big Larry McMurtry fan, but this book really pulled me. It uses very stylistic prose, reminiscent of the 19th century dime novels that made cowboys into myth. It is, in fact, fun to read. The persona is very present and we enjoy his use of language that is at once both cliche yet sounds original. In this world of the book, there are three types of people in the untamed West: gunfighters, cowboys and buffalo hunters. I suppose there are bar tenders to serve these three as well.
Far from being a dime novel, however, is the darker side of the work, beginning at about the last third or so. Billy's penchance for unthinking violence catches up with him and with the alert reader as well. This is a novel about life in America today. Or about life anywhere where individuals become icons instead of people. It is easy, McMurtry seems to assert, to kill an generalization. It is more difficult to kill a person. The whole novel sets up contrasts between generalizations of people (as if they were computer icons in a war game) and individuals. So while folks are getting killed and hurt throughout the book, it is only the Romanticized wild West until a main character that we all have learned to love gets killed. Suddenly the book is about something far beyond a recreation of a cowboy dime novel. And it hurts.
So while it is a delightful and fun romp through a Romanticized West, the undertones of the book hit hard. Read it and laugh, then weep.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not quite sure what McMurtry was trying to do with this work. It's an easy read, but if you're looking for content about The Kid, look elsewhere. Billy is an odd and occasionally tangential figure in this book.
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Format: Paperback
WOW!!! THAT WAS QUICK!!! WHAT A FAST, FAST BOOK TO READ. ?? 3 DAYS ??
ALSO A PRETTY DECENT BOOK. IT WAS FUNNY AT TIMES--SAD AT TIMES.
AN AUTHOR MEETS ""B-T-K"" BEFORE HE RRREEEAAAALLLLLYYY BECOMES ""B-T-K""
AND TAKES US ALL OF THE WAY TO THE END---VERY ENTERTAINING.
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Format: Paperback
It may be an ode to dime novels, the story is epic drama in the style of Sergio Leone, or possibly Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill, with a touch of distance and humour provided by the narrator, writing down the story in a dry voice. Mr. Benjamin Sippy from Philadelphia is a big fan of Western dime novels. When his supply slows down, he first starts cranking them out himself - then, when it stops completely, he jumps on the first train west and falls in with a young kid named Billy Bone. Along for the ride, he witnesses and documents Billy's short but wild career in fame, love and death. Many colourful characters complete the setting - Joe Lovelady, the cowboy; Katie Garza, the Mexican bandit; gunslingers, buffalo hunters and more. There may be little in the way of character development, but they all come to brilliant (if usually short) life. And there was certainly a development in the way I saw Billy. So put on that Ennio Morricone CD, grab a bottle of cheap bourbon and dig in.
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