MY STORY, BY JAMES LEE BURKE

I’ve sort of already written my autobiography. I called it The 12-Foot Teepee. A few people read it, but a fresh approach would surely give it new life.

Or maybe a less fresh approach. Definitely a different approach. Less sentimental. Darkly descriptive. Faulkneresque with shadowy, flawed characters trying to get past their guilt and regret for bad choices, damaged relationships, and murky pasts.

How about James Lee Burke?

75-JLBurkeShelf-NK-08

I love your books, Mr. Burke. Not just Dave Robicheaux, either. I love all of them, the flawed, crazy, haunted, alcoholic, bunch.

Will you please write my story? Pretty please? You’ve got the right style. You can describe my abusive childhood while adding a sufficient amount of wry humor to highlight the ironies of my adulthood. You do flawed people brilliantly and God knows, I’ve got enough flaws for a series.

Bizarre characters and plenty of them. The legion of the weird have marched through my life. They hung around for decades and they aren’t all gone yet. I seem to emit some kind of magnetism which signals to the misfits, miscreants, loners, and strangers in a strange land to come to me. I call them “friends.” Or I did. Many are gone.

James Lee Burke

Mine could be the story which could be the movie you want to make. I know how hard you’ve struggled to get one of your wonderful books properly translated for the screen. So far, no dice.

I hope you don’t take it personally. Hollywood murders most books. It’s totally not you. It’s Hollywood being Hollywood.

Stephen King is a great author who keeps trying, but ends up hating “the movies” do to his material. The only recent author who manged to escape that fate was John Irving. He wrote the script for Cider House Rules himself. Got an Oscar for it. Have you considered that?

Script-writing isn’t easy … even when it’s your work. Maybe especially when it’s your work. But I’m digressing.

Maybe there’s hope for you, if you have the right property. Me. Stop laughing. I’m semi-serious here. If you add your brooding, sardonic, Southern style to my outwardly ordinary upraising, meld it with the ugly reality of those years, and add a dollop of the bizarre life I’ve lived as an adult … In your unique style, how could it miss?

Good for you, good for me. It’s possible I’ll be dead by the time the book hits the virtual shelves and ultimately the silver screen, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll be a ghostly character, like the soldiers from In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. Maybe I’ll hang around to see the reviews.


Your Life, The Book – The Daily Post



Categories: Author, Book Review, Books, film, Humor, Literature, Mystery and Thrillers, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

39 replies

  1. I have read your book. It touches you somewhere deep very deep. I will read this one too written by Lee Bruke. I have not yet read his work.

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  2. Good choice, James Lee Burke!

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  3. I am going to get your book. The way you wrote your biography (I read the initial four pages on Amazon), can’t be written by others, including famous, or well read authors. It’s stupendous!

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    • It’s really just me. Every time I look at it, I want to edit it. A bit late for that, but all I see are typos and places which I should have rewritten the sentence 🙂 I don’t know if all authors feel the same way, but it drives me crazy 🙂 Thanks for wanted to read it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I will have to read a James Lee Burke book. You did me such a great favour when you introduced me to Mike Carey and the Felix Castor novels (of which I am now on No. 3), so definitely I will have a go.

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    • As long as you like cop stories with a hint of ghost and occasional supernatural stuff. Burke is a great writer. Different (I think better) than other mystery writers and finally, now, he is getting the credit he has always deserved. It took a lot of years for him to be recognized.

      I keep hoping Mike Carey will write one more Felix Castor book, but I suspect he’s done with the series. Pity. I love those books.

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  5. I’ve never read Burke. Now I’m curious and interested

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  6. I’ve fought the urge to write my life’s story many times. It’s too bizarre, too unbelievable to be taken seriously. Hollywood plots can’t touch my true story. 3 wives, the first a Korean national, disappears on the way to the United States to join me, never to be seen or heard from again. Wfe #2 sleeps around with two other men and announces she wants a divorce to marry one of them. Wife #3, marries me for what I can provide her bigger plan in life, not out of love.

    A fledgling artist attracts the attention of a prestigious art school in Chicago, only to have his hopes dashed by old country parents with no beliefs in fine art as a worthy profession for their son. A father with an addiction to gambling throwing away his son’s college trust fund monies on the racetrack floor, all the while denying he has a problem. Later this addiction would put his wife and two sons on the street because he gambled away the mortgage money once too often.

    Makes you want to break down and cry doesn’t it? That’s only part of my life story. There’s my addiction to alcohol, my suicidal depression that led to me waiting for the freight train to end it all. My mental breakdown and 1500 mile trip to visit my brother one last time before killing myself on the way back to South Carolina. Each story is another chapter in the life of Bob, a pathetic character not worthy of anyone. I never wrote the book because the story isn’t finished yet.

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  7. I hope he sees that picture :-). I loved the Dave Robicheaux series, a friend from LA made me read it and I am glad she did.

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  8. Consider this a review of your post and the review is in. Brilliant! I loved every moment of it. The only thing that could have – possibly – made it any better would have been if James Lee Burke HAD written it. I forgot how much I love his writing and should get to the library soon. Maybe I could even find your life story there. Now wouldn’t that be a treat? I would definitely check it out!

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    • He’s my favorite mystery author. I discovered his work about 20 years ago and I’ve read everything he has written, before or since 🙂

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      • I haven’t read everything, only a few. And I couldn’t even tell you which ones. I just know I enjoyed him. Problem is there are so many authors I like and books I want to read that there’s never enough time in the day.

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        • I was a voracious reader until a few years ago. I have slowed down a lot. I can’t focus on the page … or even on an audiobook … for more than a couple of hours. I used to always have my nose in a book, so I consumed vast quantities of literature. Those were MY good old days 🙂

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  9. I didn’t know that your book was in fact a memoir. I really have to read it now! I must admit not having read James Lee Burke but since you mention John Irving I have to say that this is one of my very very favorite American writers for adults. I envy his ability to create such realistic characters, describe the world with so much freshness and build plots that are both easy from the exterior and so layered and complex. I’m not a huge fan of Stephen King’s work but love his book about writing and since he’s a Mainer I like him!

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    • It’s not exactly a memoir, but it certainly is true. I call it fiction because I compressed several characters into one, and shortened the timeline to move the story along. But essentially, yeah, it’s a memoir wrapped around a teepee pole 🙂 You don’t have to read it. You are not obligated.

      King is a great story teller. I don’t like horror much, but I like his non-horror books a lot. And 11/23/62 is one of the greatest time travel books I’ve ever written. So lyrical it reads like poetry.

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  10. He must be really good, since you put his books on the shelf next to Roger Zelazny’s. 🙂 (Yeah — trust me to recognize those although I can barely even read the text of the blog post.)

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    • Bookshelves say a lot about someone 🙂 I read all the Amber books when they first came out, then read them again last year. My favorite Zelazny book is Jack Of Shadow. My least favorite, Lord of Light. Over all? He is up there in my top 5.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. in his “70′”s ? been through the 60’s …
    bet he knows a couple of things.

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  12. I have never read James Lee Burke and really do not know him, but it is never too late. At the moment I am into your recommendation The Devil you Know and am loving it. For me this prompt is the second time round, so I avoided a straight answer. Cider House Rules is one of our favourite films and Mr. Swiss and I have watched it at least three times.

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    • Cider House Rules is an example where they author got to put the script together and it made ALL the difference. I loved the book and the move. I used to love all Irving’s work, but his recent stuff is a bit weird for me.

      I was pretty sure you’d like Mike Carey. He’s so super literate. He uses English like a musical instrument. He does magic and demons wonderfully too. There are only five Felix Castor books. I think he is done with the series, that he finished the story in the fifth book. I wouldn’t mind another five books, but Carey writes comic books and movie scripts and probably makes a lot more money doing that than he did writing novels. They didn’t sell terribly well. I think they just didn’t get enough push from the publisher. I heard of them through a fellow blogger who said he thought if I liked Burke, I’d also like Carey. One thing leads to another.

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  13. I’ve never read this author! Your description has just slapped him on the top of the To Do list. I’m not writing to the prompt today, but if I had I would have chosen Tom Robbins, much for the same reasons you have chosen Burke. Maybe his off the wall viewpoints could make a little sense of the weirdness of my life, add humor to the dark… who knows?

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  14. I love James Lee Burke. A great storyteller!

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  15. Would love to have James Lee as a next door neighbor.

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