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Books: James Lee Burke's Swan Peak

Posted on July 06 2008

No, it’s a not a fly fishing novel. Rather it’s the latest book from the author best known for his Dave Robicheaux mystery series. But Jeff Bredenberg’s review, and particularly one passage in which Burke quotes Steinbeck, make me want to go out and buy it:
“In his fiction, Burke uses place – terrain, vegetation, weather, architecture, culture and local history – the way a carpenter uses wood. Place for him is not just a decorative element, it’s the underpinning of the story, the supporting structure. Here’s a sample, as the author describes the river country where western Montana meets Idaho:
The riparian topography of those particular waterways is probably as good as the earth gets. The cottonwoods and aspens along the banks, the steep orange and pink cliffs that drop straight into eddying pools where the river bends, the pebbled shallows where the current flows as clear as green Jell-O across the tops of your tennis shoes, all seem to be the stuff of idyllic poems, except in this case it’s real and, as John Steinbeck suggested, the introduction to a lifetime love affair rather than a geographical experience.
Swan Peak: A Dave Robicheaux Novel on Amazon.

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