The combination of Burke and Patton is without peer. Personally I favor his Hackberry Holland series. This tale involves a cousin of the infamous sher..Show More »if of Rain Gods.
When I listen to Burke, his attention to landscape and remarkably eloquent descriptions of people, time and space, I find myself wondering if I am taking the natural beauty of my own surroundings for granted. I live in a beautiful city and state, but when I try to describe it, I find myself at a loss for words. Burke's words bring out the beauty and grace of places, and then delivers the impact from their desecration by industry.
I read where a single, significant event in her childhood helped Flannery OConnor develop her genius in writing. Burke uses such an event in the life of his hero, Weldon Holland at age 16 to help define his character with his run in with Bonnie and Clyde. It's brilliant.
This is great tale worth our time. Do not pass this one up.
Hackberry Holland = Dave Robicheaux. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this story to some extent, however, my favorite author (James Lee Burke) used his ..Show More »most popular character's personality, foibles, quips and failures to morph Hackberry Holland into a more interesting anti-hero; one that happens to mirror in many easily recognizable ways his most endearing character, Dave Robicheaux. Thus, I say: Hackberry Holland is Dave Robicheaux, merely set in a new geographic and historical setting.
This book uses so many of the same literary references and imagery (e.g. The Garden of Gethsemane) from the Robicheaux novels that I began to feel like Burke was plagiarizing himself (is that possible?). When I heard Hackberry say he was "going to take it to them under a black flag," my observations were confirmed. That's when I felt very sad.
I asked myself, "Self, is Burke running out of material?" He may be, but he is still a fine writer and poet. The opening sequence is so compelling I started the novel over three times to enjoy the first several paragraphs. As for the rest…I think Dave is more believable. Hackberry is forced, as if he is trying too hard to be a broken man and self-destructive recidivist.
You'll enjoy most of this novel, but it may send you on a journey to seek a new master of the Western/Southern Motif genre.
For us fans that have read every Burke/Patton collaboration, ratings don't hold all the weight. We know by this point in this prolific author's ..Show More »career that at his worst, Burke might obfuscate his story with extravagant prose and his poetic sensibility, sending the reader sailing blissfully into the atmosphere of the novel while Patton drawls in your ear that whisper-y voice like a meditation. At his best, he's immortal; Patton, hypnotic, even sensual. Burke makes me forget I wasn't born on the bayou in the 40's, and wish that I had a porte-cochère with a PeeCan tree next to the sleeping porch. I love stepping into wherever he's taking me -- as long as it's à trois -- me, Burke, and Patton.
From Burke's pen, family honor is almost genetic and time usually has an anachronistic hiccup -- the morals and traditions of one generation trying to keep their footing under the weight of a burgeoning next generation. The Jealous Kind seems to have one foot in American Graffiti, and the other in The Godfather. Set in 1952 Houston, the country was trying to re-define itself. Men had returned from wars and were raising children after missing much of their own youth. Subcultures blossomed in place of the collective war-effort patriotism, and the Mafia had spread from the east coast to the western states where they met some resistance from the Mexican crime gangs that already had a strong foothold on drug trafficking into the U.S. This backdrop is a far cry from Arnold's Drive-In for this tale of boyhood to manhood. High schoolers Richie, Potsie, and Ralph-Malph didn't worry much about the Mafia and Fonzi didn't carry guns or switchblades (unless you count his flip-out comb, which could be bought in any border town for a buck).
While any of Burke's novels can be picked up and read independent from each other, several are written in groupings, ie the Robicheaux novels, the Holland (Hackberry) novels. The Jealous Kind is loosely tied to the Holland/Hackberry novels, the 17 yr. old protagonist (Aaron Holland Broussard) is the grandson of Hackberry Holland (city marshal Texas Ranger that captured the infamous John Wesley Hardin). All of Burke's novels tend to fall into white hats vs. black hats with no shortage of violence in the defense of good triumphs over the evil doers. This is probably one of the darkest of Burke's novels, and much of that is due simply to the serious adult issues being carried by a 17 yr. old young man. Always aware of his proud and noble lineage, Aaron has a knack for sticking his nose in where he thinks there is unfair play. When he comes to the aid of beautiful damsel Valerie in distress at the drive-in, he tangles with the son of a mob boss and unleashes hell in Houston. He's out-manned and out-gunned, and very wet behind the ears for this kind of trouble. You can almost hear "When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way..." from West Side Story as Aaron battles the collection of unsavory characters that show up for their cut of the prize...a stolen car stuffed with drug money and gold bars.
The Texas town feels like the dumping ground for budding criminals with the left-over anti semitic Nazi sympathizers from the war, the Mexican drug runners, *pederasts,* Greasers, Italian hit men, mini-mob bosses, rodeo bull riding champions, cruisin' hot rods...and young lovers (cue "Maria...I just met a girl named Valerie.."). It's dark, deep and very entertaining. The characters are richly defined and fun, topped off by Patton's incredible (voice) portrayals. They seem oddly out of place in Houston, but that is half the value of the whole show, the naïve, half-cocked bravado from a high school boy and his crazy best friend. When the action gets deadly, Aaron turns to his father, a war hero and Holland descendant, for the right-vs-might kind of muscle needed to do the job.
Good reading, maybe great, but it's still a hard-sell; I've known a lot of 17/18 yr. old boys, raised a few myself, and you don't find the kind of thought process and zealousness it takes to go single-handedly into such a hornet's nest of professional killers--even for love. And Aaron's *spells* ? I couldn't buy it, but it didn't matter. Burke's world is inhabited by villains and heroes, and I love it when I get to visit. Wish he wrote faster.
*Let me explain *darker*...that should probably read *heavier,* with a lot of crass sexual content at the beginning, which is not routine Burke. I was a little put-off (which happens rarely). But, turns out it's just some *boy-talk* that gives way to a story. It's not the tone carried throughout the novel.