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on 31 May 2000
This book deserves more than five stars. Michael Ondaatje's writing always hovers about between poetry and prose. This is perhaps my favourite book in the world, because even that balance is somehow transcended. Here is a new form; here is English made new. It's exquisite, delicate, violent, human, perfect. The people are rich as clotted cream and brittle as knives. You'll get splinters off the wood of their houses and dust in your eyes. This book is impossibly good.
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This early (1970) "novel" by Michael Ondaatje is a collage of poetry, narrative, memoir, photography, journalism, and fiction surrounding Billy the Kid. Ondaatje poeticizes Billy's thoughts, giving us "insight" into the inner man, while, at the same time, creating a kind of suspense about the inevitable outcome.
By constantly shifting the narrative focus and point of view from Billy to some of his cohorts, the women who loved them, and the "lawmen" who sought them, Ondaatje avoids the need for transitions which would normally challenge the biographer of a legend. And by allowing time to be circuitous, rather than linear, Ondaatje is able to give flesh and bone to the impressions he creates by enlisting the reader's help in "organizing" his material. In short, this is an impressionistic word-painting which gives freshness and vibrancy to an old saga of the Wild West. Mary Whipple
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on 7 October 2012
I don't know what the cover photo is meant to depict but the content is excellent. I only recently heard about this book and was intrigued enough to seek it out, really glad I did,it's one that I shall come back to repeatedly. The author has really got inside the character of Billy and the writing really does make you feel some empathy for him. I thoroughly recommend this book to those who enjoy poetry that's off the beaten track and indeed anybody who has an interest in the "wild west".
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on 5 April 2016
A collection way ahead of it's time - reads like modern experimental poetry - a mixture of prose poems, poems and prose with photographs and illustrations. I was riveted and couldn't put it down. Some people may be put off by the graphic violence - however I felt it was integral to the plot. I have read this twice now and still think it is one of the freshest contemporary poetry collections I have read in a long while - amazing when you think it was first published in 1970!
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on 28 April 2016
Wonderful, radical way of creating a narrative. No Billy the Kidd heroism/romanticsm here.
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on 25 December 2014
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on 3 May 2001
To be honest, i was disappointed. Often it was nonsensical, and wasn't true to the REAL Billy. There was more fiction than fact which was disappointing too. i much preferred the j.Weddle book. There were definitely some interesting parts though, and i will read it again.
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