Philip Michael Ondaatje is a Canadian novelist and poet born in Sri Lanka, whose novel, “The English Patient,” was made into an Academy Award winning movie, may not be well known to readers of westerns. May not be known at all to most of us who spend our time in the old west, but he does have one fun and readable and very different western work.
In 1970 he published his collection of prose and poetry,”The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-handed Poems.” After reading a study diet of westerns and modern mysteries this is a refreshing read.
Short enough, at just over 100 pages, to be read in a few short hours, this book is well worth it. At first look it might seem a bit disjointed, and it does jump around some, from poetry, to prose then photos, but what fun. Ondaatje has a wonderful command of the language, and for this ol’ western boy, it is downright pretty.
The book follows the adventures or misadventures of Billy the Kid and the rather shady characters he hangs out with, friends, lawmen, women, cohorts in crime and others. His has the ability to paint some unbelievable pictures with his words, making me reread several pages.
This one is fun-the guy can really write.