November 29, 2020
What do I have to say about a book I probably shouldn't have reprised in the first place? Just this: it's too late to back out now! What a crazy bastard I am, primping and prancing around like some grade school show off. That's what I feel like three days after Thanksgiving.
It's called buyer's remorse.
Yes, I'm still noodling Red State-Blue State Cowboys, but back to my existential angst.
And, so, now I have to make a decision as to whether I am going to personally bankroll a special edition hardbound version of "The Final Word." It's going to be massively expensive, like $5,000 for 200 books, or, $25 a book! (So, if you get one, be sure and marvel at how much I love you.)
And, then, there's this: if I do pull the trigger on this egotistical printjob, then I have to write endpaper copy to fill up that space on the inside front cover flap and the inside back cover flap. Yes, you know, that cover paper that's added on to the hardbound edition. None of this is on the paperback. Such a pain. And since the hardbound version will not be on sale in traditional bookstores, I am free to write about whatever I feel like.
Here are a few ideas.
• What a crazy bastard I am. Primping and prancing around like a grade school show off.
• This is a total pain, writing up this phony endpaper copy, but since this is not going to be sold in stores, here's a chance for me to tell you what I really think about the Kid and the imbeciles in New Mexico who refuse to give him his due. If I was the King of New Mexico I would make all those Santa Fe snotheads do community service until they got a little appreciation for Billy the Kid. I'm not saying they need to pick up highway litter, or, that they lose a digit on their writing hand, but something on that level.
• Where did I fall short in the book? The leadup to Tunstall's death is a mess and it's my own damn fault. It's complicated and I tried to get it all in, and, well, take my advice and skim past it.
• The strongest aspect of the book is the solid updates from over two decades of new research published in True West magazine since the last book was published in 1995. There has been plenty of shifting meaning and honest scholarship going on and it's almost all in the book. And that's part of the reason the Tunstall stuff is so truncated and unsatisfying. Something had to go, and, well, you know.
• One realization I had doing the book is that I have lived so much longer than the Kid (21 years vs. 73)—that's more than two extra lifetimes—and so I had all that extra time to figure out what's going on in this life and what it all means. Did he have a clue about any of this? Yes, I believe he did. Would he have traded places with me? We'll never know the answer to that, but I doubt it, and somehow that's the most enlightening part of the exercise, to me. He died as an example of what not to do, at least for me. Part of why I am even writing this endpaper crap is that I took his admontion: "Advise persons never to engage in killing." Thanks Billy! It's been a ton of fun, and I'm still here doing books on you! Sorry you missed out on all of that.
• I traded up wherever possible on artwork. That means I took a new swing at as many weak images from the earlier editions as I could. The best trade-up in my estimation is this snow sequence which was poached from a Graphic Cinema, on the Kid done in the magazine quite some time ago:
• In spite of my best efforts, some paintings didn't make it in to the third and final book and that includes this one:
Of course, I won't be able to run half of this proposed endpaper copy on the book cover endpapers, but at least you got to see the unbridled, uncensured version.
And don't forget if you get one of these hardbounds in the mail, it's because I think the world of you. And, if you don't, well, I have a hunch you might agree with Jerry.
"I believe that all of the objects and possessions that we own really just exist at different stages of becoming garbage. To me, the world is comprised of garbage and pre-garbage. I hate the garbage and I love to throw it out. That is my personality type. I love to throw anything out. I wish there was a store where you could buy something, pivot, and just throw it down a chute into an incinerator. Complete the whole inevitable process right there."
—Jerry Seinfeld, "Is This Anything?"