Recalling the first James Lee Burke I read, which was short stories, I can’t help thinking in his case that less is more. Has he gone the way of so many writers who seem to get to a point where they eschew an editor? I’m not sure why any book by Burke would need over 500 pages, but this one has almost no plot. Even if somebody had trimmed a hundred pages off it, it would still be a story cushioned in a lot more words than warranted. It is painfully repetitive, points that could have been made deftly once, hammered home time and time again. But it seems like an author gets to a point where nobody minds what he does any more. Reputation is everything. This book gets rave reviews which are not deserving.
He’s a wonderful writer. Just for the number of ways he has of describing penises and erections he might get a Pulitzer. The Louisiana setting, the backdrop of music and food and social relations and language are a winner. Clete is one of the great inventions of literature, if you ask me. Every time I read about him I wonder why these books – the ones with Clete in them – haven’t been made into movies. At some point reference is made in Creole Belle to Clete looking like John Goodman, an obvious candidate for the role. I wonder if that was a hint?
Read the book, the good about it is well worth it. Then sign my change.org petition to bring back editors.