[Marxism] On the South

Len Walsingham lha.walsingham at btopenworld.com
Wed Apr 28 05:19:53 MDT 2004

...of James Lee Burke and Michael Malone

Yes, those two. Not all their work is mystery fiction. There is also a
tendency for some people to dismiss genre writers as not quite real
literature. This is a mistake. I think anyone who hasn't read these two
writers is missing out in many ways. Another southern writer favourite
of mine is Carson McCullers (Columbus, Georgia) who had the knack to
write on three planes at once: you could look at one of her books from a
slightly different angle and find another story in it.

James Lee Burke is very popular in England. Orion are now publishing
some of his early stuff. At the moment I'm reading 'Lay Down My Sword
and Shield' (1971), one of his Hack Holland books where he assists some
union farm workers. His sense of place seems even sharper than in his
more recent books.

Charles Willeford ("to lose Willeford, we can ill afford") is another
underrated writer, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, although he moved to
California as a child, spent a lot of time in the US Army, and ended up
in Miami I believe. Such was the power of his writing that some people
thought he was black. I think this was probably due to 'Cockfighter' in
particular. I'd thoroughly recommend his 'Writing and Other
Bloodsports'. He even gave me the key to Beckett and his articles on
Kafka are priceless and hilarious.


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