Friday, June 12, 2009

Sunset Limited

From Singles 2009

"The guy who was crucified against the barn wall?" he said. "The reason people don't buy conspiracy theories is they think "conspiracy" means everybody's on the same program. That's not how it works. Everybody's got a different program. They just all want the same guy dead. Socrates was a gadfly, but I bet he took time to screw somebody's wife."
I really enjoyed "Sunset Limited". Maybe it was because I read it in larger chunks over the course of only a week, but it certainly felt much more coherent than the last couple Burke novels I read. But, I really need someone else to read this (and soon) so I can ask a basic question...why all the Christian symbolism? What does it mean that "Jesus" has two children? What am I supposed to take from their behavior? their character? (I did try to find a discussion of this on Google, but gave up quickly. One writer posed most/all of Burke's work as "Christian" because they are about "redemption". While Robicheaux is obviously a good Catholic man, I don't think that redemption in and of itself defines or is exclusive to Christianity.)

"Cause you got an obsession over the man we stretched out on that barn wall. You gonna do right, no matter who you got to mess up. It ain't a compliment."

Now, for a little game. Can you pick out the killers? and who ends up dead?? Hint: some are killers, some die, some are both, and some neither. I guess that isn't much help. And, for the record, this isn't a complete list of characters.

A. Billy Holtzner: When I walked out the front door the man in the reclining chair had turned off the bug light and was smoking his cigar reflectively, one knee crossed over the other. I could feel his eyes on me, taking my measure. I nodded at him, but he didn't respond. The ash of his cigar glowed like a hot coal in the shadows.

B. Alex Guidry: I looked into the rearview mirror and saw him watching me from the end of the shell drive, his legs slightly spread, a leather riding crop hanging from his wrist.

C. Adrien Glazier: Her handwriting was filled with severe slants and slashes, with points in the letters that reminded me of incisor teeth.

D. Willie Cool Breeze Broussard: Cool Breeze looked like two hundred pounds of soft black chocolate poured inside jailhouse denims. His head was bald, lacquered with wax, shiny as horn, his eyes dropping at the corners like a prizefighter's.

E. Meagan Flynn: It was sprinkling now, and she wore an orange silk shirt and khaki slacks and sandals, her funny straw hat spotted with rain, her hair dark red against the gloom of the day, her face glowing with a smile that was like a thorn in the heart.

F. Swede Boxleiter: The shots had been taken from an upper story or guard tower with a zoom lens. They showed him moving through the clusters of convicts in the yard, faces turning toward him the way bait fish reflect light when a barracuda swims toward their perimeter.

G. Archer Terrebonne: When you dealt with Archer Terrebonne, you simply accepted the fact that his gaze was too direct and personal, his skin too pale for the season, his mouth too red, his presence too close, as though there was a chemical defect in his physiology that he wore as an ornament and imposed upon others.

H. Ruben Esteban: ...he answered, his eyes focused on the backs of his square, thick hands, his mouth curling back in neither a sneer nor a grimace but a disfigurement like the expression in a corpse's face when the lips wrinkle away from the teeth.

I. Harpo Scruggs: The movement caused him to pucker his mouth and exhale his breath. It touched my face, like the raw odor from a broken drain line.

J. Lila Terrebonne: She was light-hearted about her profligate life, undaunted by hangovers or trysts with married men, laughing in a husky voice in nightclubs about the compulsions that every two or three years placed her in a hospital or treatment center. She would dry out and by order of the court attend AA meetings for a few weeks, working a crossword puzzle in the newspaper while others talked of the razor wire wrapped around their souls, or staring out the window with a benign expression that showed no trace of desire, remorse, impatience, or resignation, just temporary abeyance, like a person waiting for the hands of an invisible clock to reach an appointed time.

No comments: