[…]many respected reviewers, plus members of this House, have assessed this work as an affront to decency and a discouragement to serious literary effort. – Mr. Mac T. McCutcheon, House of Commons Debates, June 1970
The True Eventual Story of Billy The Kid was divisive when it came out. bpNichol won a Governor General’s award for it in 1970. Member of the House of Commons of Canada, including former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, were up in arms that the piece had received the award and monetary prize that went with it. They tried to have the award revoked but the motion required a unanimous vote, which they did not receive.
The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid retells the story of Billy. Nichol’s Billy goes against the traditional portrayal of Billy the Kid as a tough, masculine outlaw, Nichol’s Billy was mean because he had a short dick.
Language does not report reality: it creates reality.
Stephen Scobie, in his essay In Search of a Character argues that Nichol’s Billy is a “dismissal of any possibility of objective truth in reporting; it insists that any observer changes what he sees as soon as he attempts to express it. Language does not report reality: it creates reality.” The truth, for Nichol, is in the telling. All other stories about Billy, historical and otherwise, are untrue next to his telling.
Legend has a bigger dick than history, and history has a bigger dick than billy had.
The True Eventual Story of Billy the Kid is that he cannot remain stable because he is a product of ever changing stories. Insisting that he became a killer because he had a short dick is the same as insisting that he was a killer because he was tough and masculine. Billy is the stuff of history, legend and rumour.