I’m beset with the voices of Gods, literary and atavistic, screaming at me about why I should or should not care about Burke and his Rain Gods or Burke and anything else he ever wrote.

I’m devoted to the guy, but at the same time my literary eye–my English teacher eye? What’s that worth?–sees right through him. Sees through his repeated characters and their repeated motifs. There’s always the recovered (recovering?) alcoholic, the endless descriptions of landscape and weather somehow tied to the moral implications of action and plot, the passages of scripture and philosophy from young, old, literate and ill-, also tied to the moral implications of action and plot. Isn’t this a bit like Barbara Cartland?


[Note here perhaps the most grotesque book cover photo in history. They guy’s really not much older than I am, and he’s not Alfred E. Neumann, so why do this except that he’s already sold all the books he needs and doesn’t care? I wouldn’t either.]

No, not really, no bodice-ripping here, I protest. But what’s the difference? Deeper I guess. And why isn’t it just Louis L’Amour. Well, I like him, too, so is it just a guy thing? No, for all his repetition, James Lee is deeper than Louis. L’Amour’s good vs. evil isn’t as profound as Burke’s, stereotyped though James Lee’s may be.

You’ve got to dig into where your mother poisons you and you run through rattlers in a cave and come out the other side to scavenge in dumps with boots held together with duct tape to get through a Burke evil. Louis never makes you do that.

I guess I could never defend either Louis or James Lee in a college seminar or a writing workshop, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop reading either one. [When’s your next one, Louis? I don’t care if you’re dead.] And that’s what makes the literary and the human world human and makes us, as Whitman put it, more or less, contradictions? Then we contradict ourselves, for we contain multitudes.

sitting up clapping

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