Friday, August 03, 2007

James Lee Burke a little like the City of New Orleans

Books now read in ’07: 77
Title: The Tin Roof Blowdown
Author: James Lee Burke
Genre: Mystery
Date Completed: 8-2
Pages: 373

The anger and sadness that James Lee Burke feels as a result of the destruction of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina, the subsequent graft and corruption that tainted efforts to rebuild that historic city and the wholesale abandonment of the city and its largely black inhabitants by politicians, the press and the public sweep through The Tin Roof Blowdown in a refreshing wave of indignation and righteousness.

Unfortunately, that is the only element of Burke’s new novel that one can recommend. It is tempting to satirize Burke’s style and to write about what one believes will be the fate of any writer who betrays their great talent. For it seems to me that is what Burke has done. His recent books are so unoriginal, so derivative of everything he has written before, that to read him now only generates disappointment and sadness.

It is not only the plots and the actions of the characters, but the predictability that we find in the narrative, the set pieces that he re-uses from book to book as well as the descriptions that begin to re-appear not only from book to book, but chapter to chapter.

Burke is a little like the city of New Orleans – something once great, but no longer.

1 comment:

  1. You have that wrong. This country was once great, but it is not any longer. It has abandoned its own in the Gulf South.