Saturday, 26 October 2013

To the Bright and Shining Sun - James Lee Burke

Only Burke's second novel but a classic of modern Depression fiction.  The Kentucky coalfields are dying by the day.  The James family have devoted their lives to the union cause.  Old Woodson had his chest caved in by a rockfall and is now a happy-pappy, clearing forest trails for welfare.  His teenage son Perry is busy sabotaging strike-breaking scabs.  But Perry goes too far and has to get clear of the county.  He signs on with the Job Corps.  He makes mistakes but does well.  Things look like they're on the up - until Perry gets called back home to watch his father die - and to seek revenge.
A powerful story, expertly told, an example of what Burke might have been had he not become seduced by the lure of series crime fiction.  Not that Burke's crime novels aren't good, even great, it's just that this is better because it has higher aspirations.  I shall keep an eye out for more of his singles.

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