Week of July 19, 2006 | James Lee Burke

This weekís guest is James Lee Burke. We discuss his new novel PEGASUS DESCENDING, published by Simon & Schuster. Enjoy!

I did not make it my book club selection due to the dark nature of the book; itís not for everyone. 

But make no mistake; with PEGASUS DESCENDING Mr. Burke has joined the ranks of our countryís finest authors. We read the classics to learn how authors viewed the era during which they lived. We learn about Russia by reading Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. We read Jane Austen, Ernest Hemmingway, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Eudora Welty for the same reason.  

In a perverse form of serendipity, Dave Robicheaux has emerged as the man who tells us what itís like to live in the United States in 2006. I normally use my book mark to tell myself where I stopped reading the book Iím involved with. My bookmark got a workout with PEGASUS DESCENDING because I simply had to stop and savor the power of Mr. Burkeís prose on numerous occasions. 

My wife, Tina Rich, knows that when I get the galleys of a new James Lee Burke book that Iím going to read parts of it out loud to her. Sheís given up trying to stop me. 

PEGASUS DESCENDING is an important book and deserves to be read. I am often asked who my favorite writer is. Up until Andre Dubus died in 1999 the answer was an easy one. Since his death the answer to that question has changed from time to time. The answer now is James Lee Burke. 

We should all feel lucky to be alive while he is writing at the top of his literary power, and I hope PEGASUS DESCENDING begins making it onto summer reading lists for students. Letís educate young readers who are old enough to handle the material in Mr. Burkeís novels to read his work. 

We lose a lot of young readers by making them read books they have no interest in. Some of the scenes in PEGASUS DESCENDING are disturbing, thereís no arguing that. I turned on the news after re-reading the novel and what I saw on television disturbed me much more than any of the scenes in PEGASUS DESCENDING.  

Read Burke's outstanding Katrina short story "Jesus Out to Sea" in Esquire.

Listen to Interview
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James Lee Burke has done a number of interviews with Kacey:

THE GLASS RAINBOW, July 2010

RAIN GODS, July 2009

SWAN PEAK, August 2008

JESUS OUT TO SEA, July 2007

TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN, July 2007

PEGASUS DESCENDING, July 2006

CRUSADER'S CROSS, July 2005

 



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July 13, 2005 Interview with Lee James Burke