Feast Day of Fools

Feast Day of Fools: A Novel (Hackberry Holland)

James Lee Burke tells great stories about big characters. This is my first time reading of Sheriff Hackberry Holland, a Korean war vet and Texas lawman guarding a beautiful and blasted landscape on the border of Texas and Mexico. A kidnapped intelligence agent escapes from a brutal coyote who wanted to sell him to al Qaeda, and the Feds, a Russian arms dealer, and “Preacher” Jack Collins, a tommygun-toting force of fate converge on Hack, his deputy Pam Tibbs, and Ms. Ling, a Chinese woman the migrants call “La Magdalena,” who helped the agent cross. The story gripped me by the guts, and Mr. Burke’s lush yet quick-flowing prose kept me re-reading passages to savor them before I moved on. I’ve been an avid devoured of his heartfelt fiction since Black Cherry Blues, and after a hiatus, this book made me feel foolish that I’d ever stopped. Burke is as talented as he is prolific, and this is one of his best.

2 thoughts on “Feast Day of Fools

  1. James Lee Burke is one of the best. He’s one of the authors I’ll read passages from just to remind myself what good prose is.

    • Yeah, it was a really bad idea to read this during editing my first draft. I feel like using mine for toilet paper. This one compares admirably to Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, but takes it out of the realm of myth.
      “Preacher” Jack Collins, the grim reaper of this novel, is bared one layer at a time to expose his banal and pathetic core. I find that so much more powerful than the inscrutable evils of so many lesser novels. Collins is the kind of guy who wishes he was Anton Chigurh.

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