Lucky Billy by John Vernon

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Synopsis

A myth-busting novel about America’s most infamous and beloved outlaw, Billy the Kid, from a critically acclaimed historical novelist

According to legend, Billy the Kid killed twenty-one men, one for every year of his short life; stole from wealthy cattle barons to give to the poor; and wooed just about every senorita in the American Southwest.
In Lucky Billy, John Vernon digs deeply into the historical record to find a truth more remarkable than the legend, and draws a fresh, nuanced portrait of this outlaw’s dramatic and violent life.

Billy the Kid met his celebrated end at the hands of Pat Garrett, his one-time carousing partner turned sheriff, who tracked Billy down after the jail break that made him famous. In Vernon’s telling, the crucial event of Billy’s life was the Lincoln County War, a conflict between a ring of Irishmen in control of Lincoln, New Mexico, and a newcomer from England, John Tunstall, who wanted to break their grip on the town. Billy signed on with Tunstall. The conflict spun out of control with Tunstall’s murder, and in a series of revenge killings, an obscure hired gunman called Kid Antrim became Billy the Kid.

Besides a full complement of gunfights, jail breaks, and bawdy behavior, Lucky Billy is a provocative picture of the West at a critical juncture between old and new. It is also a portrait of an American icon made human, caught in the middle, more lost than brave, more nadve than principled, more of an accidental survivor than simply the cold-blooded killer of American myth.
 

About John Vernon

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John Vernon is the author of the novels La Salle, Lindbergh's Son, Peter Doyle, and All for Love: Baby Doe and Silver Dollar. The recipient of two NEA fellowships, he teaches at SUNY Binghamton. His work has been published in Harper's Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, The Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, and The Nation. The author currently resides in Vestal, New York.
 
Published November 3, 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Westerns. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lucky Billy

Kirkus Reviews

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Fortunately, the novel’s shapely arc efficiently establishes Billy’s exigent and defensive morality: “Forget good, I’m after justice…Alls I ever did was shoot a few people.” And there’s real pathos in the working out of his destiny, perfectly encapsulated in the hired gun’s foreknowledge that “hi...

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The New York Times

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Billy the Kid still rides through the Old West of the American imagination: part reality, part myth;

Nov 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Lucky Billy

Bookmarks Magazine

and wooed just about every señorita in the American Southwest.
In Lucky Billy, John Vernon digs deeply into the historical record to
find a truth more remarkable than the legend, and draws a fresh, nuanced
portrait of this outlaw's dramatic and violent life.

Billy the Kid met his ...

Dec 08 2008 | Read Full Review of Lucky Billy

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