Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Stone Garden

The Epic Life of Billy the Kid
By Bill Brooks

Forge – first edition June 2001
First mass market edition, October 2002

The White Sands Region, New Mexico, 1908. It is twenty-seven years after the alleged death of Billy the Kid and rumours abound throughout New Mexico and the United States that the Kid is still alive. Those who believe him dead, are labelling the Kid’s killer, Pat Garrett, a traitor. While Sheriff Garrett expected a hero’s reception for his assassination of William H. Bonney, alias, The Kid, Garrett has become the most despised man in the state. Instead, assassins are now lining up to gun him down. Garrett watched the kid’s exploits become the stuff of legend, of dime novels and myth. And the myth continues that the Kid is alive. When an assassin’s bullet finds Garrett, many secrets go to the grave with him. Among those secrets is the identity of his own killer.

Bill Brooks has written this book in the first person, the story told through the voice of Billy The Kid for the main part, although later he tells part of the tale as Manuella, which makes for some fascinating different points-of-view of events in the story.

The story also moves from its present to the past and back again at regular intervals; one minute you are reading memories of a dead person, the next they are alive. You’d have thought all this jumping around in time would make for confusing reading but it doesn’t, it helps add interest as you don’t know where the story will take you next.

The whole book has a very dark tone as it’s filled with many reflections on dying, on depression, on sadness, and the dead. Having said that Bill Brooks does insert many moments of humour too; such as the river that washes away graves to send coffins and their contents to new resting places.

In the Stone Garden Bill Brooks has really come up with a very memorable, and moving, book and in doing so has added to the many myths surrounding Billy the Kid and his death at the hands of Pat Garrett. This is definitely a book that will stick in the mind for a long time, for not only being entertaining but thought provoking too.

Read more about Billy the Kid here (the Tainted Archive)



I've got to read this - I'm actually working on a Billy trilogy - part one -THE ANTRIM KID. Part 2 - BILLY and part 3 THE RETURN OF THE KID. So I too am going to use the imagnative stretch that Garrett didn't kill him. This will make fascinating reading for me but I don't think I'll finish my project for a good many years. Check out my interview on The Tainted Archive for the thoughts of renowned Kid expert Fred Nolan.

Steve M said...

Sounds like an interesting trilogy Gary: I look forward to reading it one day...

Duane Spurlock said...

Billy the Kid must be in the air. I've noticed several posts about Billy on a number of blogs the past few months. I'm reading STONE GARDEN right now. I read Pat Garrett's book about Billy a couple months ago. I haven't yet posted any of my Billy thoughts at The Spur & Lock.

I, too, had a notion to write a story about Billy not really being dead, but hadn't realized there was so much competition, so I may let it lie unwritten. I look forward to your work, Gary.