In this novel, Burke brings his brilliant feel for time and place to a stunning story of Appalachia in the early 1960s. Here Perry Woodson Hatfield James, a young man torn between family honor and the lure of seedy watering holes, must somehow survive the tempestuous journey from boyhood to manhood and escape the dark and atavistic heritage of the Cumberland Mountains.
©2013 James Lee Burke (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
In the rich tradition of Steinback's Grapes of Wrath comes this novel by one of my favorite writers. However, this is not a detective story. No Dave and Clete. no Billy Bob. It is a coming of age novel of a young man,Perry James, in a Kentucky mining town in the mid-twentieth century. To the Bright and Shining Sun (interesting title), in true Burke manner, vividly portrays the life of poverty and despair amid the fighting and violence between the coal industry owners and unions. The story is not black and white - the unions are as ineffectual as the owners are corrupt and amoral. It is about one young man's attempt to dig himself out of the cycle of deprivation and to revenge his father's death.
One other point: although Will Patton is my favorite Burke narrator, Tom Stechschulte does an admirable job bringing this gritty story to life.
A great listen, the performance sounded just like Henry Fonda. The story does Kentucky justice,as I was there 35 years ago training as a nurse midwife.
It doesn't paint a pretty picture, but a true one
I loved it.
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