The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (Vintage International) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

An early, brilliant novel by the great Michael Ondaatje, imagining the life and times of William Bonney -- better known as Billy the Kid.

Constructed from what notes and fragments still exist, Ondaatje creates a raw, personal account of the Wild West legend. Told primarily from Bonney's perspective, the book chronicles the well-known exploits of his life: the formation of his gang; his standoff with Sheriff Pat Garrett; and the arrest, escape, and shoot-out that eventually killed him. These are the incidents that built Bonney's bloodthirsty reputation. But Ondaatje's novel is more than a rap sheet for a long-dead felon -- it is a tribute to the old west, to the dusty, sun-scorched hills of New Mexico, and to a young man whose brief life left an indelible mark on those he knew and the world he left behind. Ondaatje brings real humanity to this portrait of the notorious outlaw.

And it's just incredible. Ondaatje is a master, and this is him at his most poetic and inventive."

--Matt, Longfellow Books

— From Matt Recommends!


Drawing on contemporary accounts, period photographs, dime novels, and his own prodigious fund of empathy and imagination, Michael Ondaatje's visionary novel traces the legendary outlaw's passage across the blasted landscape of 1880 New Mexico and the collective unconscious of his country. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is a virtuoso synthesis of storytelling, history, and myth by a writer who brings us back to our familiar legends with a renewed sense of wonder.

About the Author

Michael Ondaatje is a novelist and poet who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of The English Patient, Divisadero, In the Skin of a Lion, Coming Through Slaughter, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid and Anil's Ghost; three collections of poems, The Cinnamon Peeler, Secular Love, and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do; and a memoir, Running in the Family. He received the Booker Prize for The English Patient.

Praise For…

“Moving and tragic. . . . Ondaatje is a poet and even his prose moves with rhythmic circular precision.” —The New York Times Book ReviewThe Collected Works of Billy the Kid strains one’s powers of description.... Ondaatje’s eye for detail is wonderful and he uses it poetically, with superb restraint.”—Larry McMurtry, The Washington Post Book World“Wonderful.... Ondaatje’s language is clean and energetic, with the pop of bullets. This is literature, art.” —Annie Dillard
Product Details
ISBN: 9780679767862
ISBN-10: 067976786X
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 19th, 1996
Pages: 128
Language: English
Series: Vintage International