In this intense, fascinating story, Burke follows the lives of three young Louisiana men, each of whom finds himself in desperate circumstances. There's Avery Broussard, the last survivor of a family of once-prosperous land owners, who has a weakness for alcohol; J.P. Winfield, a poor singer and guitar player who rises to fame as a country music star, only to be destroyed by drug addiction; and Toussaint Boudreaux, a black longshoreman who moonlights as a heavyweight boxer. The destinies of these men are tragically intertwined in this debut novel that showcases Burke's masterful and now-familiar style.
©2013 James Lee Burke (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
This book is probably Burke's first novel, first published in 1965. It consists of three stories loosely interwoven in Louisiana's seamier sides, including the fight game, blues singers, and prison camps. Early Burke sounds a lot like later Burke so far a tone, mood, and dialog. It's very good writing. But caution: these are not an uplifting stories. The prison camp in particular conjures up images of Cool Hand Luke's camp.
Except for the fact that everyone talks like some bland character from a TV family sitcom.
Not the dialog, Zeisler's narration. Escaped prisoners being chased through the marsh: they all sound the same, like a couple of frat boys talking about cars. Passionate lovemaking? Same thing. The woman even sounds the same, not like any woman I know and certainly not passionate. There's not even an attempt made to make some poor Louisiana coon-ass sound authentic. They're all the same, speaking with near monotone delivery. Everyone sounds like Zeisler ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Well, all but one. For some reason Zeisler has to take a shot at a British accent. It's terrible, and the story doesn't even need a Brit. Zeisler could have just gone on with his coffee-ordering delivery and no one would be the wiser.
The only reason I can see that Simon and Schuster Audio picked Zeisler for this read is that he does a pretty good job singing some of the blues lyrics sprinkled throughout the book, or at least he has the guts to try. They should have used him for just the lyrics and got someone else, almost anyone else, to do the narration.
If I had it to do over again I would get the print version and try to imagine Will Patton or Mark Hammer narrating it.
Potter in NC. Intense books allow for creative freedom. Busy hands+distracted brain=free forms.
Half of Paradise, James Lee Burke
So you think you’ve had a rough life? You’re upset with what fate has handed you? Or maybe you’re feeling guilty about how good your life is and can’t forgive yourself for being so happy?
Then this book is for you. “Half of Paradise” is a very well written and extremely dark anthology of tragic people making tragic decisions on a tragic course to destruction.
Mr. Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series is one of my favorites, a great writer telling great stories. Maybe it was just my mood (or perhaps my story) but this book, “Half of Paradise” depressed the hell out of me.
I would buy anything by JL Burke, forget Zeisler, this book wandered around some very un likable characters and their low life non adventures. Poor dialogue, poor story, do not work with others James Lee.
Everything was disappointing, even JLB's wonderful powers of description were poorly represented. This non starter story just continues to disappoint at every opportunity.
Mundane descriptive reading. Monotone reader, little to work with as far as development.
All characters were low life people, even the supporting characters were un likable. I imagine the defending argument would be characters are life like, who cares what these losers think, say or do. Local NOLA jail birds were uninteresting, dialogue basically grunts and groans. Knocked up drug addict, smelly promoter, so what.
Stick with NOLA, Iberia LA and the West populated with interesting characters doing interesting things.
If this was James Lee Burke's first book it's a wonder he wrote more. Nothing at like his later books. Very seldom do I not finish a book, but I could only get through half of this one before I gave up.
Since there was no distinction between the characters voices, there was a lot of "Avery said" "Billy Joe said" - very annoying
The performance was ok, just not the usual.
This author has written much better.
Reader and Writer from Colorado Springs carefully disguised as a financial advisor all these years. Who knows what lies below a snowy rooftop?
Unlike Jim Burke's later books, this one doesn't have a straightforward plot, beginning, middle and end. It just sort of happened. But on the other hand, this is a first novel, and I didn't realize that until after I finished.
It's amazing how much Burke has matured as a writer. The seeds of greatness are in this book. It's more than a curiosity piece.
The narrator should be able to read. Inflection, character and acting skills are important. This narrator does not demonstrate any of these traits.
none. I'd just fire the narrator.
James Lee Burke remains my favorite writer and I'm glad I have now been through his first novel. He has quite a history since then. Pick it up. Maybe you'll like the narrator.
I like the Dave Robicheaux books, this story is just full of useless characters with no common sense. The book really has no point other than the futility of life and and who wants to read about that for enjoyment!
Have a real point to the story, weather positive or negative.
He did well, it's the material that sucked.
Killed some time!
Please do more Dave Robicheaux books and Billy Bob Holland
First of all, I should say I love James Lee Burke's stories. This one, however, I did not. I don't know if it was the content, or the lack of any attempt to "perform" from the narrator. I can only hope Will Patton was just too busy to narrate, and that this stumbling, passionless performance will not be re-created. Perhaps I am just spoiled. As far as content is concerned, this is another time when the people whose stories are being told make poor decisions time after time. While that is a recurring theme in JLB's novels, in this one there seems no saving grace in the lives portrayed. The characters are rich and the descriptions of the environment are evocative. I usually read JLB stories over and over. This one will not be re-read for a very long time.
I would only recommend this story to my strong of heart friends. It is too discouraging for any lesser mortals.
While his singing of the songs was entertaining, he read the stories without changing voice, pace or inflection. These are highly emotional stories, and the lack of any of that makes them much less powerful. With authors who do not identify the speaker in their dialogue, it is imperative for the chosen narrator to give the speakers different voices. He did not. It was confusing.
It's James Lee Burke! The imagery he uses is always entertaining. For someone who, like myself, has never been "down South", I feel as though I have, after reading his descriptions.
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