Sunday, February 23, 2014

Louisiana Lit: Dave Robicheaux and Alcohol


Drinking in Dmanisi, Caucasus Georgia



Who is Dave Robicheaux? 

He's the protagonist in 20 books written by James Lee Burke, a New Iberia, Louisiana, writer.

Dave is a homicide detective in New Iberia, Louisiana. Cajun. Recovering alcoholic. Viet Nam war veteran. A man who marries. A father.

You can read more about Dave here. And what he thinks about north Louisianans here.


Bar glasses, St. Louis, Missouri


Dave and alcohol

I said Dave was an alcoholic, right? In the series, he's been abstinent and he's been in relapse. He's a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Here's how Dave's brain processes alcohol:


From Neon Rain (1987):
The sudden raw taste of alcohol after four years of abstinence was like a black peal of thunder in my system. My stomach was empty and it licked through me like canned heat, settled heavily into my testicles and phallus, roared darkly into my brain, filled my heart with the rancid, primordial juices of a Viking reveling in his own mortal wound.

From A Stained White Radiance (1992): 

The bottles of bourbon, vodka, rum, gin, rye, and brandy rang with light along the mirror. The oak-handled beer spigots and frosted mugs in the coolers could have been a poem.....

Descanso, New Mexico

From Jolie Blon's Bounce (2002):

[At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting] .. I told them all of it. How I had stolen and eaten my wife's diet pills for the amphetamine in them, then had kicked it up into high gear with white speed I had taken from an evidence locker. How I had bludgeoned Jimmy Dean Styles's face with my fists, breaking his nose and lips, knocking his bridge down his throat, grabbing his head and smashing it repeatedly on the bar, my hands slick with his blood and the sweat out of his hair, while an insatiable white worm ate a hole in the soft tissue of my brain and I ground my teeth together with a need that no amount of sex or violence or dope would relieve me of, that nothing other than whiskey and whiskey and whiskey would ever satisfy. 




Beer bottles, Shiprock, New Mexico

Dave's description reminds me of how Mary Karr, in her memoir, Lit, explained how she fell for the drug:
The bottle gleamed in the air between us. I took the whiskey, planning a courtesy sip. But the aroma stopped me just as my tongue touched the glass mouth. The warm silk flowered in my mouth and down my gullet, after which a little blue flame of pleasure roared back up my spine. A poof of sequins went sparkling through my middle.



Wine, Alamogordo, New Mexico





1 comment:

  1. When I gaze upon those beer bottles, it reminds me of why I have difficulty being a rabid environmentalist (myself being much too much of a pragmatist (also synonymous with lazy)). Of more concern to me is the pollution that belched forth in the production and distribution of the bottles that are obviously being returned to the earth after only one use.

    Some may consider this an eyesore, which generally fits the description of most garbage, but in this particular case, the photographer has turned it into a bit of art. Well done!

    Especially nice having the remnants of an ancient volcanic plug as the backdrop to give things a bit of a geological perspective. In a few brief ticks of the geological time clock, the bottles will be just bits of dust in the wind.

    As Siddhartha noted, it may end up as soil that nurtures a living thing. That idea is discussed as well in "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold.

    As an aside, the bottles will definitely create a micro-habitat that will in turn foster the co-evolution of new niches in these harsh, barren lands. That could be ecologically profound if brought to a larger scale.

    Maybe we could form a non-profit that advocates that the crushing of bottles be outlawed and it be required by law that bottles be widely scattered throughout desert lands world-wide in effort to ameliorate the onslaught of anthropogenic desertification.

    Statisticians could be utilized to develop algorithms to cluster the bottles in some optimal fashion instead of just distributing them willy-nilly. Laws could be passed protecting these delicate lands from the ravages of dune buggies and .... oops - maybe I was getting a little carried away there.

    Any how (as Dudley J Leblanc would say), its a fine photograph.

    That's what reading sci-fi will do to a young brain. Mark it for life, for sure. Methinks a little to much of Frank Herberts "Dune" got laser beamed into my brain cells.

    Forgot all about good old Dave Robicheaux - and that is definitely another story.

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