Friends, I am stunned. One of my heroes, the great James Lee Burke, has praised my writing, saying (I kid you not): “Her prose is on fire.” JAMES LEE BURKE!!!!

The occasion wasn’t one I’d expected either. I had reviewed his wonderful new Dave Robicheau mystery, Clete, for the ArtsFuse (an online journal of the arts, based here in Boston). My review wasn’t uncritical – I picked at some points that bothered me. But overall, I loved the poetry of that book, which gives Dave’s longtime sidekick Clete his own story. The rhythms and repeating motifs reminding me of that great Virginia Woolf quote:

“Style is a very simple matter; it is all rhythm. Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words. But on the other hand here am I sitting after half the morning, crammed with ideas, and visions, and so on, and can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm. Now this is very profound, what rhythm is, and goes far deeper than any words. A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind, long before it makes words to fit it.”

ANYWHOO… my review ran and got some nice comments. And then I heard back from JLB’s publicist, who had sent him my critique. And he loved it, despite my criticisms. And in part of his response to the publicist, which was then forwarded to me, he said – yes, “HER PROSE IS ON FIRE.”

Friends, I feel like I can now never review a JLB book again. But that’s ok, because …James Lee Burke said about something I wrote: “Her prose is on fire.”