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A Treat Rejected

The entire time I’ve been slogging through the revision of Train Trip, I’ve been holding out the treat of reading a James Lee Burke novel. It’s a Hackberry Holland mystery, not Dave Robicheaux because I’ve read all the Louisiana novels. James Lee Burke is one of my favorites, with his lush language and “haunting of the past” themes. But I’ve decided not to read the book.
Last night, I got thirty pages into the novel. After my first sigh of relief—he writes so well!—I became depressed at how my own writing would never reach the heights of Burke’s. His details in creating place are amazing. I truly admire him. Then a foreboding set in.
These are mystery novels, okay? Death hovers over every page. Evil saturates the bad guys. As the novel progresses, people will die. Burke has already introduced Hackberry’s horses; he’s made us love them; they are now at risk.
I decided I did not want this story of humanity’s dark side in my life. It’s to Burke’s credit that I believe he is showing me what actually exists out there. I just don’t want to see it.
Thanks to my friend Joe Hawes, I recently read an article debating the purpose of reading: to find friends, connect with characters, experience happy endings—or something else. I guess right now I don’t even want to live through the hatred to get to the satisfying resolution. (And, yes, the raccoon did make it through all the Robicheaux novels so maybe the horses are safe, but …)
We each read, and write, for our own needs. Without this kaleidoscope the world would be pitiful indeed. My job is to figure out what I need in my life at any given time and try to answer that need. So, right now, I leave Hackberry to his travails, wishing him all the luck in the world.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Dave Robicheaux, Hackberry Holland, James Lee Burke, mystery novels, train trip, Why we read

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