Every book he writes is rich, sensual, and powerful. The writing, the feel of the place and mood of the times. Of course, Dave Robicheaux and Clete are my favorites, but I have loved every book I’ve read by James Lee Burke, in and outside of the “Robicheaux” series.
I didn’t think they could get better, but this was better.
Why? Because the characters aren’t the same “kids” they were. They have aged, grown, and changed. They aren’t the same “guns blazing” Dave and Clete.
Life has been hard for both of them. Dave has lost three wives, one to Lupus and two to violence, but he’s not full of hate or looking for retribution. He’s an adult, a genuine grownup.
Both men have moved on with the understanding that life isn’t and won’t ever be exactly what they want. They aren’t expecting perfection, yet they are still involved, caring, concerned for each other and the world in which they live. They are entirely alive and deeply involved.
If you like James Lee Burke’s writing, there’s nothing not to love in this book.
Will Patton is a superb narrator (and a pretty good actor too, by the way). He may even be better than the original narrator who was himself, brilliant. What Patton has going for him is clarity of speech which enables him to use a reasonable southern accent, but clearly enough for we northerners to easily understand.
My only regret is that I read the book too fast.
I should have slowed down and made the story last longer. Maybe I’ll read it again.
Maybe I’ll read the last TWO again.
Note: This review is for the Audible.com version, but reading James Lee Burke as a regular book is just fine and in fact until quite late in the series, I read all his books in hardcover. I have all of the first books in hardcover, first edition. I know it’s sentimental, but I can’t help myself. I still love the smell and feel of a new hardcover book!
For seven years, Serendipity was the “official” name of this blog. One day WordPress decided the money I paid wasn’t enough to protect the title of my blog and we disappeared. Vanished.
To emerge back into the light, I had to come up with a “more unique name” so readers could find us. In between, some kid — one of WordPress’s “happiness engineers” explained that the problem was really that I am irrelevant. People — the general public — no longer (overnight) likes anything I write.
He really pissed me off and I’m still holding a grudge. I actually asked him what award-winning work he was currently writing. He explained he hoped someday to write something pretty good but hadn’t gotten there yet. I asked him if he’d ever written anything at all and he said, “not yet, but he was planning to.”
I wanted to reach through the computer, grab him by the throat, and throttle him. Luckily, I can’t do that … but someday.
A year later, we are very much back as “Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth” which is really the name of the post plus the “subtitle” in one title and you can find all 8,729 posts by using at least half of this annoyingly long title — or the name of whoever posted it the piece.
A few years ago, a few more people started writing for the blog and now, we are five. Garry and Tom write when they feel like it, Ellin and Rich write at least one piece a week and I do whatever remains and these days, a lot of them are pictures of birds.
Rich Paschall has been writing, always on Sunday, but sometimes other days. Now that he is retiring, I expect to hear more from him. He has also been an incredible help to me when I’ve been out sick for long periods of time, especially when I was in for, then recovering from, a massive amount of heart surgery.
I don’t know if this site would have survived without his assistance and I will always be deeply grateful for his caring and concern, even though we’ve never personally met. I keep hoping one of these days, we will meet!
Friends Ellin and Tom Curley — well, we’ve been friends a long time. Tom, and Garry and I all worked at the same college radio station and Ellin is the wife Tom always needed but didn’t know until they met. I love happy marriages!
Tom writes when his personal lightning hits while Ellin is a loyal, regular writer and is beginning to get the hang of photography as another way of writing the story.
All of us have a lot to say.
Garry talks about his life as a TV news reporter and all the people he met along the way. Tom talks about his life and views as a TV director, producer, and engineer.
Not to mention his post TV life doing Audio theater in which Ellin is his partner.Garry Armstrong
Everyone has a LOT to say about the political world, mostly not very good stuff, but that’s the way it is these days.
“Serendipity is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.” – Dictionary Definition.
Basically, life is all serendipity. I started this site 6-1/2 (seven years in February!) years ago and have garnered closing on 800,000 views from almost every country on the planet.
And still, I see a frightful lack of intelligent life on Earth.
Stupidity is exploding at an unsustainable rate. I thought we had reached epic levels of stupid, but there’s just no stopping it.
Watching Jim Jeffries last night “interviewing” the Q people who also appear to be “flat world” believers … and believe Hillary Clinton kills babies for their blood. All of which beliefs are based on zero evidence. None of these bizarre “humans” think “proof” or “evidence” is important. Stupidity reigneth.
When you witness that sort of thing, not only do you get a splitting headache, but you realize seeking intelligent life on Earth may be a futile effort. To seek, yet never find.
There is no intelligent life on Earth. We are like Arthur’s knights seeking a Grail that never got to Britain and possibly never existed. Yet we seek it.
Serendipity? Well, there are two reasons for it as this blog’s title.
First, there is a lovely chocolate shop in Manhattan named “Serendipity.” They serve iced chocolate that is to die for. When I was a teener, it was the place to be, the coolest place in the big city. It continues to exist and I’m betting it’s still the place to be, especially if you live in New York, are young, and looking for life.
The other reason is more obvious. Life is serendipity. You go looking for one thing, you find something else. While you are “settling for that other thing,” you discover you like it more than whatever you were looking for. A lot of my writing is entirely serendipitous. I start writing and something falls out of my hands into the keyboard and sometimes, it’s pretty good.
We are born.
We have no idea who we are or what we will be.
We may never know who we are or what we will be.
We make choices, which may or may not work out, but regardless they are temporary. Because everything changes. We live many different lives and few of them are planned.
I really wasn’t going to take any pictures. For one thing, I didn’t feel particularly well and I really have a LOT of pictures. Thousands I think during the past three months.
So I was in the kitchen trying to make a sandwich. I wandered to the window and I looked out — and there was a red-headed ladderback woodpecker landing on the feeder, a cardinal in the flat feeder and before I finished picking up my camera, two more woodpeckers, both landing on the feeder in addition to a variety of other smaller birds.
I’ve never gotten a picture of a male and female downy (or hairy) woodpecker on the feeder at the same time while yet a third woodpecker was on the other feeder and a cardinal too.
I couldn’t take pictures fast enough. I also have managed to process a lot of them. Many didn’t need much processing. Other than a little straightening or cropping, the pictures all looked fine right out of the camera.
So I did a little cropping, signing, and now, time to put some of them up for looking at. I hardly know where to begin, so I think I’ll start with the ladderback red-headed fella and tomorrow I’ll get serious about the two woodpeckers … or something like that.
Can you see the snow falling in the pictures? Because it’s snowing out there and it’s very cold.
Garry came back from the deli with news. Lance and Betsy have sold the place and are retiring. Someone else is taking over.
Quaker Deli and its friendly and generous owners were among the very first people to welcome us to the valley more than 18 years ago. Until we got our feet under us and began to know our way around, it was a required stop in our daily rounds. They make great sandwiches and sell quality cold cuts. And they always know how we like it sliced.
But time has had its way with them, as it does with us all. It’s what happens nowadays to almost all “mom and pop” shops. In this case, it’s not a lack of business. It’s simple tiredness. The kids don’t want the business. Mom and pop don’t want to spend all their remaining years on their feet. So, they sell.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if only whoever takes over the place would keep it as what it is … a place to pick up a few necessities without going into town. Where you can buy a great lunch, made for you. Buy a lottery ticket or whatever. Most of the new owners of these shops are immigrant families. They see a small business as a ticket to the Dream of America.
They don’t mind the long hours and hard work. But they don’t necessarily maintain the place in any way that resembles how it was. They go more heavily into higher volume, bigger profit items — like lottery tickets and cigarettes. They stop selling food and making sandwiches. This has happened to every little deli or mini grocery sold since we’ve lived in the Blackstone Valley. If it happens here, we will have to go into town for everything. The last convenience store will be gone.
I have heard over and over again that mom and pop stores are disappearing because we don’t support them, but that’s not necessarily true. It may be true sometimes, in some places. In this case, Lance and Betsey have plenty of business, maybe more than they can comfortably handle. All the truckers stop there to buy lunch. It’s the only place at this end of town where you can get an emergency supply of eggs or half-and-half.
The problem is that — not unreasonably — their kids have different dreams. They don’t want to run the family deli. They want a job where they can sit at a desk and go home without worrying about the business.
Small business are nonstop work. Buying, selling, bookkeeping. Ordering supplies. Tracking sales and figuring out what you should buy in greater or less quantity … or just stop selling entirely. The shop may be closed, but there’s always work to be done. I’m sorry to see them leaving and we will miss them very much. But I understand. I couldn’t do it.
Among many other reasons, this is why we need immigrants. They will happily do the jobs we can’t or won’t do. Think about that the next time you begin to rail against newcomers to our shores.
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