I am currently 50 pages into James Lee burke's new Dave Robicheaux novel, CREOLE BELLE (pub date July 17th). Once again he has penned a book that defies adjectives. As Michael Connelly states on the dust jacket, "James Lee Burke is the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed."
I will interview Mr. Burke the week of publication and will post the live audio interview here the day after we record it. In anticipation of that interview I am featuring a few of the interviews I have done with Mr. Burke. Our interview is now an annual rite of summer for both of us (this will be the ninth time we have talked). I am often asked what he is like in person and I can tell you that he is one of the nicest, most humble writers I have ever met; a genuinely nice man. We have conducted interviews where he has had to pull over to the side of the road because of driving conditions; one summer the phone line to his home phone was severed that morning and he drove into town to call me. I have other stories I could tell, but won't, because they are of a personal nature.
I consider Jim Burke a friend I could call if I found myself needing to talk to someone- he is that kind of man. His generous spirit and his sense of morality shines through in everything he writes.
Here is the review and the replay of the interview I did with Mr. Burke in 2010 when we discussed THE GLASS RAINBOW.
JAMES LEE BURKE July | 2010
James Lee Burke makes his seventh appearance on the show this week. We discuss his new novel, THE GLASS RAINBOW, published by Simon and Schuster.
This is the 18th novel in the Dave Robicheaux series. Mr. Burke published the first Robicheaux novel, THE NEON RAIN, in 1987. I remember reading THE NEON RAIN in two sittings.
There was something about Burke's writing that transcended the mystery genre. In that first book Dave adopts an orphan who is rescued from a helicopter accident, her name is Alafair.
Alafair has been an important character in the series. Burke's use of Alafair in THE GLASS RANIBOW shows the complex and loving bond between a father and his daughter. Their relationship has matured in the book, and Alafair plays a major role in the plot of the story. Mr. Burke's real life daughter Alafair has become a successful mystery writer as well, and during the interview Mr. Burke discusses their relationship.
THE GLASS RAINBOW also plumbs the depths of the relationship between Clete Purcell and Robicheaux. Clete is up to his normal tricks and vices in the novel, but Mr. Burke brilliantly begins to introduce mortality into their friendship and he shows the acceptance that true friends show each other as they continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. The last two pages of the novel brought me to tears. This is Mr. Burke's most powerful novel since PEGASUS DESCENDING and TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN.
Mr. Burke and I were fifteen minutes into the interview when the subject of the exploitation of his beloved Louisiana by the oil companies came up. As an interviewer you live for the moment when an author opens his mind and heart to you and trusts you with what he is about to say. Mr. Burke and I have had several of these moments over the years, particularly after Hurricane Katrina. James Lee Burke knows the oil business; he has worked on oil rigs and has had friends and family that were and are oil men.
I put my tongue between my incisors and wrote, "SHUT UP", on my note pad when Burke started discussing the BP Oil Explosion. I allowed him to give full vent to his knowledge and outrage of what is going on in the Gulf Coast. Please take the time to listen to what Mr. Burke has to say. It is powerful, and it is the truth.
He loves his native state and our country enough to tell us the truth about how the oil companies operate. I am honored that he chose our show to express his feelings about the explosion (vs. a spill).
James Lee Burke is an important American writer. To classify him as a crime writer is to sell him short. I've said it before and I'll say it again, he is the Dostoevsky of our generation. The depth of his characters, the lushness of his prose, and his command of language make his stories a privilege to read.
Visit www.kaceykowarsshow.com to listen to all eight of the interviews in the James Lee Burke series!Read THE GLASS RAINBOW. And then read the rest of the series. Burke is quite simply the best!