My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, February 3

James Lee Burke

Several times on this blog I’ve written about author James lee Burke, praising him for his sensory style, for his interesting characters Dave Robicheau and Clete Purcell, for his recreation of the scents and sights of New Orleans and Louisiana. In his latest Robicheau novel, The Light of the World, this one set in Montana, an aging Dave Robicheau reflects on life and death. Here are a few of his reflections:

“At a certain age, you realize the greatest loss you can experience is a theft you perpetrate upon yourself—the waste of days given us. Is there any more piercing remorse than the realization that a person has thrown away the potential that resides in each sunrise?”

“Life had no value if it didn’t contain love. Was there any worse fate than not loving another and not being loved in turn? If the color gray could be applied to an emotional condition, it was a life without affection or human warmth. “

“Age is a clever thief. It takes a little from you each day, so you’re not aware of your loss until it’s irreversible.”

Here’s a fitting example of that sensory style I mentioned, especially when it applies to his beloved Louisiana:

“I have always loved and welcomed the rain, even though sometimes the spirits of the dead visit me inside it. During the summer, when I was a child, no matter how hot the weather was, there was a shower almost every afternoon at three o’clock. The southern horizon would be piled with storm clouds that resembled overripe plums, and within minutes you would feel the barometer plunge and see the oak trees become a deeper green and the light become the color of brass. You could smell the salt in the wind and an odor that was like watermelon that had burst open on a hot sidewalk. Suddenly, the wind would shift and the oak trees would come to life, leaves swirling and Spanish moss straightening on the limbs. Just before the first raindrops fell, Bayou Teche would be dimpled by bream rising to feed on the surface. No more than a minute later, the rain would pour down in buckets, and the surface of the Teche would dance with a hazy yellow glow that looked more like mist than rain.
For me the rain was always a friend. I think that is true of almost all children. They seem to understand its baptismal nature, the fashion in which it absolves and cleanses and restores the earth. The most wonderful aspect of the rain was its cessation. After no longer than a half hour, the sun would come out, the air would be cool and fresh, the four o’clocks would be opening in the shade, and that evening there would be a baseball game in City Park. The rain was part of a testimony that assured us the summer was somehow eternal, that even the coming of the darkness could be held back by the heat lightning that flickered through the heavens after sunset.”

And finally, another of Dave’s thoughts about life and death:

“What is the sum total of a man’s life? I knew the answer, and it wasn’t complicated. At the bottom of the ninth, you count up the people you love, both friends and family, and you add their names to the fine places you’ve been and the good things you’ve done, and you have it.”

I and Dave have a kinship. Too often of late I feel like I’m in the ninth, hoping for the game to go into extra innings. I feel like I’ve still got a few homeruns in me, but at my present age, it’s not likely I can ever hit one out of the park, maybe just a couple of bloopers over the infield or an accidental bunt that goes for a hit. But when I add in all the loved places and loved people in my life, and the good things I've done, the number comes out satisfactorily high. And with that extended sports metaphor, I and Dave say goodbye to whatever readers we have.
Post a Comment

Blog Archive

Any comments? Write me at