Re: RARA-AVIS: James Lee Burke

M-T (
Tue, 13 Jul 1999 11:08:18 -0400


<<But I have to say that I think THE LOST GET-BACK BOOGIE is one of the best novels I read in the 1980s, and I'd enthusiastically recommend it to anybody.>>

I would second this. It's a great novel, though not a mystery or a crime novel. There is also Burke's excellent collection, _The Convict and Other Stories_.

<<Then again, I understand Charles Willeford gave Burke a lot of advice about cutting and shaping the novel, so there you go.>>

You can never trim enough... I find it amusing to think of what Burke's Robicheaux novels would look like if one took out the lengthy descriptions of the bayous, Gulf storms, fishing in home-made pirogues, and so on. My conclusion is that they would read like old Gold Medal action novels. Whatever one thinks about Burke's style, at heart his work is truly hardboiled.

While I see that many of the criticisms are valid, it will take more to convince me that Burke is not a great writer. His best moments, which for me are all in the action, are second to none. I agree with Kevin that Burke should exploit Clete Purcel, his greatest character.



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