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The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
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Bibliographic Detail
Publisher Random House of Canada Ltd
Publication date August 26, 2008
Pages 118
Binding Paperback
Edition Reprint
Book category Adult Fiction
ISBN-13 9780307397614
ISBN-10 0307397610
Dimensions 0.25 by 5.25 by 8 in.
Weight 0.35 lbs.
Availability§ Apply Direct
Published in Canada
Original list price $17.95
§As reported by publisher
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Summaries and Reviews
Amazon.com description: Product Description: Not a story about me through their eyes then. Find the beginning, the slight silver key to unlock it, to dig it out. Here then is a maze to begin, be in. (p. 20)

Funny yet horrifying, improvisational yet highly distilled, unflinchingly violent yet tender and elegiac, Michael Ondaatje’s ground-breaking book The Collected Works of Billy the Kid is a highly polished and self-aware lens focused on the era of one of the most mythologized anti-heroes of the American West. This revolutionary collage of poetry and prose, layered with photos, illustrations and “clippings,” astounded Canada and the world when it was first published in 1969. It earned then-little-known Ondaatje his first of several Governor General’s Awards and brazenly challenged the world’s notions of history and literature.

Ondaatje’s Billy the Kid (aka William H. Bonney / Henry McCarty / Henry Antrim) is not the clichéd dimestore comicbook gunslinger later parodied within the pages of this book. Instead, he is a beautiful and dangerous chimera with a voice: driven and kinetic, he also yearns for blankness and rest. A poet and lover, possessing intelligence and sensory discernment far beyond his life’s 21 year allotment, he is also a resolute killer. His friend and nemesis is Sheriff Pat Garrett, who will go on to his own fame (or infamy) for Billy’s execution. Himself a web of contradictions, Ondaatje’s Garrett is “a sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane assassin sane” (p. 29) who has taught himself a language he’ll never use and has trained himself to be immune to intoxication. As the hero and anti-hero engage in the counterpoint that will lead to Billy’s predetermined death, they are joined by figures both real and imagined, including the homesteaders John and Sallie Chisum, Billy’s lover Angela D, and a passel of outlaws and lawmakers. The voices and images meld, joined by Ondaatje’s own, in a magnificent polyphonic dream of what it means to feel and think and freely act, knowing this breath is your last and you are about to be trapped by history.

I am here with the range for everything
corpuscle muscle hair
hands that need the rub of metal
those senses that
that want to crash things with an axe
that listen to deep buried veins in our palms
those who move in dreams over your women night
near you, every paw, the invisible hooves
the mind’s invisible blackout the intricate never
the body’s waiting rut.
(p. 72)


Editions
Hardcover
Book cover for 9780393087024
 
from Viking Pr (October 1, 1974)
9780393087024 | details & prices | 105 pages | List price $9.95
About: Fact and legend are combined in this journey into the mind and character of the notorious outlaw
Paperback
Book cover for 9780140072808 Book cover for 9780307397614 Book cover for 9780679767862 Book cover for 9780887846083
 
The price comparison is for this edition
Reprint edition from Random House of Canada Ltd (August 26, 2008); titled "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
9780307397614 | details & prices | 118 pages | 5.25 × 8.00 × 0.25 in. | 0.35 lbs | List price $17.95
About: Not a story about me through their eyes then.
from House of Anansi Pr (November 1, 1998); titled "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
9780887846083 | details & prices | 112 pages | List price $12.95
About: 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.
Reprint edition from Vintage Books (March 1, 1996); titled "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
9780679767862 | details & prices | 105 pages | 5.50 × 8.25 × 0.50 in. | 0.35 lbs | List price $14.95
About: Fact and legend are combined in a fictional journey into the mind and character of the notorious outlaw Billy the Kid
Reprint edition from Penguin USA (December 1, 1990); titled "The Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
9780140072808 | details & prices | 105 pages | 5.00 × 7.50 × 0.50 in. | 0.25 lbs | List price $10.95
About: Fact and legend are combined in this journey into the mind and character of the notorious outlaw
from House of Anansi Pr (December 1, 1970); titled "Collected Works of Billy the Kid"
9780887845093 | details & prices | List price $9.95

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