Bewildering Stories

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A Look at Walter Mosley

reviewed by Jerry Wright

Outnumbered Book Jacket - Walking Book Jacket
Titles: "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned" and "Walkin' The Dog"
Author: Walter Mosley

Time-Warner Books

Well, okay, a couple of books about a Black ex-con living in Watts are not exactly what one would expect in a generally SF oriented reviewer's column. But it's MY column, I can do what I want. But first, I must put this issue out for ya'll. Don't worry, I'll be back.

See, I told you. Yeah it took a while, but hey.

Socrates Forlow is a man out of time. He spent 28 years in prison in the Midwest because he killed a man and raped a woman. Both of them his friends. But he was young, drunk, and wild. When he came to, he was in shock, and frankly, although as we see through the stories that compose his life he is highly intelligent, he is also someone who needed control imposed from the outside. He is a huge man with "rock breaking hands" and he killed again while in prison, spent time in Solitary, and finally, served his time. So here he is on the backside of 50, and living in Watts.

The two books about Socrates are composed of individual stories rather than chapters, but this method of story-telling moves the action along in a somewhat jerky motion which fits the life that he leads. No one could read the story of his rescue of a young black kid from gangs and crime, his life in an apartment that doesn't legally exist, the dog he saves that ends up with no back legs, and finally in the last book, his taking on of a crooked cop in one of the coolest, and in some ways scariest confrontations I'v ever read...

The language is the language of the ghetto, and so is rough, but Walter Mosley has an elegant ear for realistic dialogue, and as did Raymond Chandler, "writes like a slumming angel." This is the pure quill, the real stuff. It is human and moving and outrageously good.

Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Wright