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The Lost Get-Back Boogie

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,840 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
Iry Paret's done his time -- two years for manslaughter in Louisiana's Angola State Penitentiary. Now the war vet and blues singer is headed to Montana, where he hopes to live clean working on a ranch owned by the father of his prison pal, Buddy Riordan. In prison, Iry tinkered with a song -- "The Lost Get-Back Boogie" -- that never came out quite right. Now, the Riordan f ...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Pocket Star (first published 1986)
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Cathy DuPont
Aug 23, 2013 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing
I'm just amazed at the ability of James Lee Burke to create characters who have such depth as Ivy Paret the ex-con who served his time in Angola (Louisiana) and is trying to begin a new life far away from his home town.

All of Burke's guys, his characters, think about right and wrong; about trying to find their way in a complicated world and how to make the best of everything they're dealt. Sometimes bad luck just happens, life happens and rising above it all takes perseverance, sometimes more t
Donna Davis
Whoa. Okay. I can't BELIEVE what it says in the preface, that this novel was REJECTED 111 times...and then nominated for the Pulitzer. It's raw, it's vivid, and in places so painful that I had to read it in small jags at a time to break it up. That's okay; it made this excellent novel last longer.

Here it is clear that the protagonist (and likely the writer) has ABSOLUTELY NO use for the American prison system or cops in general, though he is careful to avoid stereotyping his characters, and even
May 07, 2016 Blair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Just a dynamo of a book. The reader can get utterly lost in the descriptive passages about the landscapes. The author's love for his characters and scenery is immense and heartfelt. The prose flows like Southern Comfort into a chilled glass with ice. The story revolves around a man named Iry, an ex-con trying to restart his live in Montana upon his release from prison. He gets a helping-hand from a friend he made in prison that gets him work on his fathers farm.

The father is currently not a popu

Jun 29, 2009 skein rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
4.9999 stars. Read this one summer while housesitting - I would never have picked it up otherwise - and Burke surprised the hell out of me. I thought it would be a light, easy read. Nope.
The sensation of reading it stays with me - like my first time reading James Joyce or Vladimir Nabokov - Burke's style is so distinctive, without in the least bit altering from 'normal'.
And he is affecting. I haven't yet read his other works because it took such an emotional toll on me. That's all I can rememb
Jul 04, 2012 J.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
James Lee Burke is one of those rare writers who can describe a character or place so well you almost expect to bump into them or see the scenery out your window.

This novel was his introduction (or reintroduction in some cases) to a reading public after his earlier work had been out of print for 13 years. The fact that it was published in 1986 by a university press (LSU) after being rejected 111 times by commercial presses over a nine year period says something not very flattering about the tast
P.J. Coldren
Aug 18, 2008 P.J. Coldren rated it really liked it
Iry Paret has done his time in Angola, which is no country club prison, then or now. He's gone home, but there's nothing there for him any more. His family would just as soon he leave, and he does. He heads for Montana, because his prison pal Buddy Riordan has promised him a job and a place to live. Buddy is a musician, like Iry, and they both have a predilection for the bottle, although Buddy likes his dope, too. Iry is on parole, which means he has to behave in Montana or he can be yanked back ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Kay rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
So far I love this even more than the Dave Robicheaux books. The descriptions, which I often skip in a book, get re-read; the characters are engaging and I care about them; the story is in the fine American realist groove, painful but shown with deep understanding and no excuses. The writing is superb, not a wasted word and the words used are the pick of the litter. I was not expecting to be able to get into this book; now I cannot put it down.
Every time I rest the book for a moment I feel Emil
Nov 19, 2010 Marvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
The Lost Get Back Boogie is a slap of cold water in the face. Burke writes with the cultural empathy of Tony Hillerman, the passion for nature and the environment of a Edward Abby, and the socio-psychological suspense of a James Lehane. This is literary suspense at its finest. While Burke is often called a mystery writer, there is no mystery in this novel. We follow the main character as he is released from a Louisiana prison of which he was sentenced for making a bad choice and watch him helple ...more
Bonnye Reed
May 03, 2015 Bonnye Reed rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keepers
This book was written before I 'found' James Lee Burke, and I have managed to miss it until now - Please read this book. It is a remarkable look into a world we all know someone involved with. Finding your way back into society after serving time, turning your life around after prison has to be the most difficult thing I can imagine. James Lee Burke vision of this transition is astonishing and much better than my imagination could have come up with.

This book was rejected 111 times, and after a
Jul 09, 2007 Cindy rated it did not like it
If you like reading about alcoholics, or if you like reading about the drug addicted, or if you like reading about living conditions in prison, or if you like seemingly never ending personal dramas then this is the book for you. The story line and the characters wore me out! At half way through the book I realized it wouldn't get any better and I sped read to the end.
Feb 06, 2016 Nolan rated it liked it
There's something about Burke's dialogue in all of his books that keeps me on page. It has a kind of rhythm to it that I can't quite describe, but it's memorable, and this book displays plenty of that.

This isn't part of a series; it's a great stand-alone that you can read without missing something or characters appearing elsewhere.

The gates to Louisiana's Angola prison are swinging open as the book opens to disgorge one of the lucky ones. He is Iry Paret, and he had killed a man in a bar a coup
Jul 23, 2010 Jerry rated it liked it
Burke's drama better than mystery, but plot still weak...

This book reminds us of what in music is called a "tone poem". The melodies and harmonies swirl in an entertaining, sometimes captivating, pattern; but when it's all over, it doesn't amount to much that's memorable. We wanted to read this novel to possibly cure ourselves of our disappointment with one of Burke's Dave Robicheaux mysteries. Our findings of that one ("Cadillac Jukebox") was that his imagery surely is vivid, but his skills in
Nov 24, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
This book did not get particularly good reviews when it was first published (it's pre-Robichaeux and this edition is a reprint), but I liked it very much.

As the book opens, Iry Paret has just been paroled from prison, having been convicted of manslaughter. Because the man was trying to cut him open with a broken bottle, Paret was sentenced to only five to fifteen years. Iry is an outstanding guitar player of jazz and country-western music, and the crime happened in one of those seedy redneck ba
Kathleen Hagen
The Lost Get-Back Boogie, by James Lee Burke, B. Narrated by Will Patton, Produced by Recorded Books, Downloaded from

This is not a Dave Robicheau book. I’m not sure if it’s a stand-alone or not. Iry Paret has just come out of Angola Prison in Louisiana where he spent two years for killing someone. He has little connection to his family and decides to go to Montana to pass his probation on the ranch of a friend and the friend’s father. At first things seem wonderful. He stays under t
Oct 16, 2013 John rated it really liked it
Most of the Burke I've read is from the 90's and 00's, and in those books his main characters are more or less clean with dark pasts. Robicheaux is a recovered alchoholic, while Billy Bob Holland has violent tendencies and a darkly violent past.

In this book, the characters are in the midst of their darkness, some trying to break free, others determine to go deeper. The characters booze heavily from the perspective of a modern person. Part of that is that the book was written in the 70s, when bo
Martin Bihl
Nov 20, 2008 Martin Bihl rated it liked it
I like James Lee Burke. Partly this is because i have fond memories of Montana, and because the delta inhabits my dreams. And i like the Dave Robicheaux mysteries. They're not "mysteries" in the typical sense - they tend to be novels in which a murder occurs - and i like the way he works his way through them. So that's background.

This is not a Dave Robicheaux mystery. In fact, as the introduction explains, this is the book that finally "broke" Burke to the public. And you know what it is? Basica
Rick DeStefanis
Jul 18, 2014 Rick DeStefanis rated it it was amazing
Gonna have to give it five stars just because it's Jimmy Lee. I must say he was either on a diet, or was writing prior to meal time each day, because I've never read so many well-described meals. As always, I seldom read Burke for content, but for the quality of his writing. A master of the craft, he keeps me reading regardless of subject matter. This is one of his originals and still one of his best. Taking the reader from Angola in Louisiana to Missoula, Montana, Burke writes of tortured ex-co ...more
Ed Rogers
Jun 30, 2015 Ed Rogers rated it really liked it
After reading 'The Wayfaring Stranger' and being not much impressed, I read this book because of its Pulitzer nomination. I'm still waiting for the Pulitzer 'moment'. I didn't think it was all that well written. I wasn't carried away with elegant writing and the story was as predictable as 'Wayfaring Stranger' - the resolution, in both books, could go one of two ways and sure enough that is what happened. Basically, guy with resolute heart wins out. The book was not thought provoking. Why write ...more
Eric Layton
Jan 26, 2015 Eric Layton marked it as could-not-finish
I could not finish this book. I skimmed to the end of it. It never improved. I'm a fan of Burke, for sure, but I just couldn't get into this one at all. I've often been frustrated with his recovering alcoholic character in the Dave Robicheaux series, but this alcohol-pickled, nicotine-infused, guitar-playin' fellow in this book was just too much for me. I should go back and tally how much alcohol was consumed by this drunkard for the duration of this book. I'm sure it would be epic.

Sorry, Mr. Bu
Mike Hovis
Apr 22, 2016 Mike Hovis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No wonder this book brought national attention to JLB

I've wanted to read this book for a long time. It was well worth the wait. This book has all the qualities I love in James Lee Burke's writing. It has noble but broken characters, flash backs to what broke them, detailed description of scenery, and ends on a note of hope after tragedy. The only thing that would have made it better would have been for those who burned the barn and destroyed the aviary to have gotten their comeuppance. Still, it
Jan 20, 2010 Betty rated it liked it
As someone who lived in Missoula,Mt for over 30 years, it is fun to read a book that is easy to imagine the scenery and the places they go. This definitely made it interesting for me, but the characters were not people that I would hang with nor would I go to the places they go. Two are ex cons who drink and booze all day and night and for most of the book they are either in a bar or diving up and down the highway south of Missoula drunk. There is a good story line, but it frequently gets lost i ...more
Eric Shaffer
May 26, 2016 Eric Shaffer rated it did not like it
Well, almost. I finally tossed the book within the final fifty pages because I could not stand the narrator's self-pitying whining or the plain old loseritude of every damned character in the book. From this experience, I realized that I really do need a character, a plot point, or a guitar, or a buffalo, or something to root for as I read a novel. Throughout these pages, I felt like an unwilling voyeur to pointless self-destruction of people I barely cared about. I thought that was what MMA was ...more
Randy Grossman
May 09, 2015 Randy Grossman rated it it was ok
The story started slow and really dragged in most of the book. I was interested in the 1960s background and the references to musicians and songs because I am a novice musician....go to if you'd like to hear my songs. I thought the characters stayed mighty sober (in some places), considering they drank beer and whiskey like iced tea and soda pop. I speed read the final third of the book.
May 03, 2011 Glen rated it really liked it
A very macho book that starts in the bayou and ends in the Bitteroots. I found the character of Frank Riordan a little too derivative, too reminiscent of Ken Kesey's Henry Stamper, but Iry Paret and Buddy Riordan were interesting characters, and some of the dialogue was extremely well done. All in all a very enjoyable and fast read. This is the first of his novels I've read, and this was, I believe, his first.
Stacy Bearse
Oct 07, 2012 Stacy Bearse rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This ranks as one of the best novels I recall reading. The plot is rich. The characters complex. The locations vivid and colorful. And the writing ... simply superb. The gritty action is credible, and a reminder of reality for those of us who have lived comfortable lives, largely sheltered from the underbelly of America. "Get-Back Boogie," written in 1978 has aged well. It remains a terse, powerful tour-de-force.
Apr 24, 2016 Dobby0390 rated it it was amazing
Powerful writing. Raw. Gritty. Real. Iry and Buddy — and even Frank — are pretty much just moving down the road, not so much making choices as reacting to the moment. Not surprisingly, that produces more than a few cringe-worthy results, with some being flat-out tragic. Burke creates characters that sit down in the room with you, and he sets them in a landscape so real that your eyes burn. This is a book I had to savor slowly; it's not something to be rushed through. I'm still reeling.
Sep 29, 2013 Lori rated it liked it
I really like James Lee Burke's Robicheaux series, but I found myself getting impatient with the characters in this novel and their repeatedly bad judgement. I started to feel that if they couldn't learn to stay a little sober or maybe even stay out of redneck bars, perhaps they deserved to go back to Angola. I finished the book, but would not hold it up as an example of why I love to read Burke.
Megan Huff
Oct 29, 2007 Megan Huff rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book.

Burke is an excellent author. The characters are realistic, and even if you cannot relate to their exact experiences you can definately see where they are coming from and even find similar situations in your own life.

I read this book in two days. If I did not have school I would I have finished it in one. I had to force myself to do other things, including eating dinner! I settled on reading while I ate.

Everybody should read it. Now.
Aug 18, 2015 Ernest rated it it was ok
To maintain any sense of this books distorted reality the last paragraph should read- 'One yr. after the marriage, in a drunk-blind rage, he beat his bride and her two boys near death and was returned to Angola.(and keeping true to the characters of the book) The transport guard shared his bottle(s) of whiskey all the way south.
Kim Guzzo
Jul 18, 2010 Kim Guzzo rated it really liked it
Good Book. James lee Burke always fills his novels with such details in his scenery and background it makes you want to go see. The charachters are filled out nicely and always have some sort of damage (as do we all)yet they manage to get thru life. The friendships are different yet loyal and take some time to understand. A fast paced read.
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James Lee Burke is an American author best known for his mysteries, particularly the Dave Robicheaux series. He has twice received the Edgar Award for Best Novel, for Black Cherry Blues in 1990 and Cimarron Rose in 1998.

Burke was born in Houston, Texas, but grew up on the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. He attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the University of Missouri, receiving
More about James Lee Burke...

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