John VernonLucky Billy

John Vernon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
7pm – 8pm

Book Reading and Signing

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.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Historical Novel
Pre-Order Lucky Billy from Amazon and get it signed on March 22, 2011 at Africa House, 50 Washington Avenue, Endicott, NY.
Free entrance


John Vernon
Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Lucky Billy was chosen by the Seattle Times as one of the ten best books of fiction in 2008, and by the Arizona Historical Society as a 2008 Southwest Book of the Year.

John Vernon, born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the author of eleven books, including six novels, a memoir, a book of poems, and several books of criticism. His novels are La Salle (2006), The Last Canyon (2002), A Book of Reasons (1999), All for Love: Baby Doe and Silver Dollar (1995), Peter Doyle (1991), and Lindbergh's Son (1987). Two of his books have been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and has been awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

His novels are often exclusively set in the historical American west. His work has appeared in Harper's, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, Paris Review, Poetry, The New York Times Book Review, and many leading publications.

While most of his novels are set in the historical American west, Vernon believes that the novel is an art form designed to both entertain and discomfort readers. According to Vernon, the ultimate goal of a novel is to undermine our complacency while bringing us news of the world.

Lucky Billy by John Vernon


Fine Art

Gourmet Dinners at Africa House