THE CONVICT by James Lee Burke


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Burke's stories frequently set up situations for good to conquer evil, for the disadvantaged to prove themselves more alive than the advantaged, for the wronged to take revenge--there's an old-fashioned Southern liberalism to them that seems morally worthy but artistically hollow. Here, the title story, "Uncle Sidney and the Mexicans" and "Taking A Second Look" all promote a loser into a winner, with a heavy anchor of moralism weighing them down and making them predictable. Burke writes well and evocatively of Louisiana, especially that of decades back; and one story, "Losses"--a WW II Louisiana parochial school, a Catholic boy's introduction to the ambiquity of ethics--is especially satisfying (until its obvious conclusion). A Civil War story, "When It's Decoration Day," has a crammed specificity that almost gives it the ballast of a novella. But on the whole, Burke, who has mostly published novels heretofore, seems message-heavy and schematic at shorter length.
Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1985
ISBN: 161554741X
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1985


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