Goodbye, Maggie (shortlisted for the 2019 Faulkner Prize) is FREE this week on Amazon (Kindle).
(If you don’t have a Kindle, download the app for free, and get all the books you need for quarantine.)
Click the cover below to link through. (Read some excerpts below.)
So get your copy now. Or if you have a copy, gift a copy or two to friends. Just tell them to be polite and write a brief and honest Amazon review in return for the freebie 🙂
Phil’s life becomes a fiasco of misdirection when his charismatic brother, Magnus, shows up with the news that he has murdered someone and asks for sanctuary. Magnus then disappears – with Phil’s girlfriend, Hermia – and Phil lands on an uneasy road trip through small town Louisiana with Gus, another rival for Hermia’s attention. Phil and Gus, white and black, find racism, madness, and unlikely friendships as they roll through the bayous and into New Orleans.
Cimarron Rose is the first book I’ve read by Louisiana native, James Lee Burke. Thoroughly enjoyed it, though the content was a bit raw and gruesome at times. I would not recommend the book to those who are invested in the culture of “trigger warnings.” For everyone else, go for it!
Like all writers worth their fame, Burke has strong characters driving the plot. And like all good writers of his genre (suspense/crime drama), that plot is very carefully crafted. But Burke’s signature element for me is style – a muscular prose style of the sort sometimes associated with Hemingway but adapted to the genre and the regional setting (small-town Texas and west Louisiana). It is a style paradoxically very sparse and very vivid. Tight sentences with words and images chosen with great efficiency. It reminds me a bit of the way Clint Eastwood created a richness of character in the spaghetti westerns with a few facial gestures and fewer words.
Her arms looked strong, her stomach flat under her breasts. Her black gunbelt was polished and glinted with tiny lights…
His skin had the unblemished smoothness of latex stretched over stone…
Outside the window I could see trees of lightning busting all over the sky.
This style of Burke’s colors all other elements – the sense of place, the characters’ psyches, the pace of the story and of life in the universe of the novel.
If I ever make it back to Burke’s hometown, New Iberia, Louisiana, the place itself might be a little more colored in by this brush with his personality via Cimarron Rose.