RARA-AVIS: Re: Burke's Swan Song

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 15 May 2008

Upon being informed Vachss' next Burke would be the last, Nathan wrote:

> That's only 10 years overdue.

So... how long before some puffball inevitably asks:

> Out of curiosity, Nathan, what's your background? Anything
> interesting at all?
> As you know perfectly well, Nathan, vitriolic attacks on eminent
> authors with no bearing on any of their actual writing does not
> constitute an "opinion." It is in fact the contents of the books I'd
> be more interested to hear you critique. I'll be fascinated to hear
> how you'd improve them.

Hee hee hee....

Actually, kidding aside, Nathan, I more or less agree with you. I liked the early Burkes, as a sorta pure pulp wrap around a serious theme, but they got a little too cartoony and didactic for me after a while. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to laugh or take notes.

Ironically, his actual comic book work at about the same time was taking a decidedly grittier, less GEE WHIZ tone, more street level and less West Side Story. He had some truly memorable stories about killers, thugs, hookers, junk yard dogs and the like; short nasty little vignettes that stood in sharp contrast to his increasingly fat novels.

In fact, I think his comic book short stories were rounded up a few years back in a collection called HARD LOOK or HARD LOOKS. Something like that. They might still be available. And he even did a Batman graphic novel, about abused children of course, that was pretty good
-- and less goofy than some of the Burke novels of the era. Also worth looking for, if you're a Batman or a Vachss fan.

I know plenty of people here love the Burke books, so how do the more recent books stand up? Maybe Burke will go out with a real bang.

By the way, before some royal pain misreads YET ANOTHER of my posts, my criticism of some of Burke's work DOES NOT mean I condone child abuse.

Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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