Monday, May 24, 2010

Reading Matters

"Spoken From The Heart" by Laura Bush Scribner 456 pages $30

I've always enjoyed reading about our Presidents and First Ladies. Some of their stories are very interesting. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bush's story was not. She writes well and does librarians proud, but she never goes into depth about anything even slightly personal. It is a curiously passionless effort. She writes descriptively about White House furnishings which is somewhat interesting.

It took awhile for her and her mother-in-law to become close. But that's about as dishy as it gets. Imagine eating nothing but vanilla ice cream for three or four days...

"Rain Gods" by James Lee Burke Simon & Schuster 434 pages $25.99

Burke introduces a new protagonist in this -- a Texas sheriff named Hackberry Holland, a recovering alcoholic and Korean war veteran. He's a 70-something man with a deputy sheriff (Pam Tibbs) who has a crush on him. Lots and lots of flashbacks as to when Holland was a POW.

Burke, of late, has been trying too hard with the overshadowing. "The torpid gray sky pressed down on the dusty bowl that is Divinity Valley" kind of thing. In fact, he treats weather conditions (lot of heat lightning in this one) with as much attention as he does any of his characters.

And most of the characters in it are striving for "enigmatic." Of course there is the nearly mandatory character who tells us that the gods, disappointed in us, have departed. That would be the Rain Gods in this case.

I'm sad about this because I remember the fun I had reading about Clete Purcell, the maniac in the Dave Robicheaux series. Clete was a character you could get your teeth into -- filled a bad guys convertible with wet cement; never hesitated to start a bar fight -- Clete! Come back! We miss you!

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