Have you ever been moving books around on your shelf and then find yourself sudden lost in one? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Anything For Billy. I have been reorganizing my shelves a bit, had the book in my hand and the next thing you know, I was sitting with my back pressed against the bookshelf and was almost half way through the book. The writing just sucked me in and I haven’t even realized I’d opened the book! Though I had little idea what the book was about, other than it involving Billy the Kid. When I bought it a few years back, it was because of the author. I hadn’t read any of his books, but I had heard of his work and knew he was a fantastic western author.
The book itself isn’t entirely about Billy the Kid, though he certainly plays a significant role in it. It is more a story about Ben Sippy, who is happened upon by Billy and they form a quick friendship. Since the story is from Sippy’s perspective, it is like watching Billy’s life through Sippy’s eyes.
The flow of this story was perfect. There weren’t any major lulls, though things did slow down from time to time. Things moved almost constantly, which matched the way Billy lived his life, always on the move, always looking for the next thing to do, whether it was a person to kill, lady to love or a challenge to be met. There was a great collection of characters scattered throughout, some were tough as nails, while others were slowed down by their weaknesses. I think my favorite character was Joe, he was your typical cowboy but devoted his life to Billy even though he didn’t always agree with Billy’s ways. Loyalty was actually a very strong theme within the boy, as many of the characters, Joe and Sippy especially, showed great loyalty and devotion to Billy. They might think he was crazy to ride off towards a gun fight he was bound to lose, yet they were right there beside him because they didn’t want to leave him alone.
This was a really enjoyable book, and while I’m not sure how much, if any, of this book tells the real story of Billy the Kid, it was a quick read. I’d definitely recommend this book to western lovers, but also those who may not have read anything within the genre. It’s a great stepping stone into the western genre and proves that McMurtry is a wonderful story teller.