Another Kind of Eden

A conversation with James Lee Burke

Friends, this is one of those occasional “promotional” posts I try not to do too often. A topic I have been kicking around for a newsletter piece involves elders; our relationship to them, what they mean to our lives, and how little our culture seems to respect them. It’s been brewing for a while. Anyway, I am fortunate to have a couple elders who loom large in my life, as mentors, role models, and friends. One of them happens to be one of America’s most celebrated authors, James Lee Burke. Over the last half-dozen years or so I have enjoyed the opportunity to become as good of friends with him as I have with anyone. A friendship enjoyed almost exclusively in face-to-face, real world interaction.

When I first started writing sentences every day however many years ago, the first entry was referencing seeing JLB while both of us were waiting for tire work to be done at Les Schwab, this in the years before I knew him. One of his great sentences is part of the epigraph of One-Sentence Journal; it reads, “How do you explain to yourself the casual manner in which you threw your life away?”

Tomorrow (or, specifically, on Saturday, September 18th) I am overjoyed to be joining him in conversation as part of the Montana Book Festival to discuss his new book Another Kind of Eden.1 This is an organization and event I would happily give a body part to (and there have been years it felt like I did!2). Several years ago I introduced Mr. Burke to a room full of a couple hundred people as Fact & Fiction’s “Beyoncé” because when anyone refers to “Jim” there’s really only one person being discussed. So if you have time at 2:00pm MDT, it will be an event well worth attending. Jim is a phenomenal storyteller and as good a man as I’ve ever met. You may register HERE.

I had a wonderful conversation with Jim yesterday about our upcoming discussion. I asked him if we should plan ahead or just wing it. “Plan?” he said. “We’ll just talk about what we always talk about only this time there’s gonna be an audience. It will be great!”

It certainly will be….

1

I love it; certainly my favorite Burke book in years, possibly ever, for many reasons

2

Specifically, my ass, after running it off all over downtown Missoula for a few days