Those with a painful history are apt either to forget or rewrite their history. While some, like talk-show host Steve “I don’t really care for slavery” Harvey, prefer to forget the painful past, there’s a growing literary trend in which writers are crafting an alternate past with the hope of shaping a better future.
“It’s not that we want to forget the past. We want to own the past,” said Walter Mosley, one of the most read American novelists at work today.
The author of more than three dozen fiction and nonfiction books, Mosley gained famed through his Easy Rawlins mysteries, including “Devil in a Blue Dress,” which was made into a motion picture starring Denzel Washington. Science fiction allows African American writers to tell often ignored stories, Mosley says. Read the rest of this entry »
Crime and mystery writer Walter Mosley was presented with the group’s Literary Achievement Award. The author of more than 40 novels, his Devil In A Blue Dress was made into the 1995 film starring Denzel Washington; he’s currently adapting the book for a Broadway play.
In praise of libraries and librarians, Mosley recalled how after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Bush Administration “sent out a memo to librarians saying, ‘We need to know who’s reading what; who’s reading books about building bombs; who’s reading books about Islam; who’s reading books that may be considered anti-American.’ And librarians said, ‘F*ck you. I ain’t doin’ that.’ The librarians said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ “
It was then, Mosley said, that “I realized that they were the last bastion in America to stand up for our freedom. So when I was asked to come to participate in an event which, among other things, is going to raise money for our libraries and will make libraries stronger, I thought, ‘That’s great because if you make libraries stronger, you make America stronger — the America that I know and that I love.’ “
Bestselling author Walter Mosley blends philosophy and humor in this thought-provoking exploration of race, sin, and salvation. It is the story of two men—one human and one angel—who have the power to topple heaven.
When Tempest Landry was accidentally shot and killed by the police, St. Peter ruled that Tempest’s sins condemned him to hell. But Tempest refused to accept damnation, and even heaven can’t overrule free will. Unless he goes willingly, the order of heaven and hell will collapse and Satan will reign over the chaos. The celestial authority sends an accounting angel to earth, to convince Tempest that he should sacrifice himself for the good of the world, and casts Tempest’s soul into the body of a man who has been convicted of serious crimes.
While Tempest serves out another man’s prison sentence, the angel Joshua is living among mankind. He has been stripped of his celestial powers, yet is still tasked with persuading Tempest to make the right choice. As the angel sees the many injustices his friend suffers, he begins to question the morality and rightness of his position.
Rose Gold, by Walter Mosley
Review by Alycia Gilbert
Set in the corrupt, racially charged Los Angeles of the late 1960s, Walter Mosley’s Rose Gold examines its social backdrop as much as its detective examines the mystery within it. Rose Gold is the newest addition to Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mysteries, but can be readily enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.
Private detective Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins finds himself entangled in jurisdictions and lies as he investigates the kidnapping of Rosemary Goldsmith, daughter of a military weapons developer, and her involvement with boxer-turned political activist Bob Mantle. As Rosemary’s case unfolds, Easy delves deeper into the world of communes and revolutionaries while relying on old friends and favors to help his investigation along. To clear names, navigate additional cases, and find Rosemary Goldsmith, Easy Rawlins will have to work his way through blatant prejudice and constant misdirection.
Rose Gold is more a mystery of connections than a thriller, with a constant, steady pace that picks up toward the climax of the novel. Mosley’s grasp on the culture of Vietnam-era L.A. is organic, and his use of setting will delight readers. His writing style is straightforward and easy to process, and is laced with moments of original, beautiful description.
Readers who are unfamiliar with the rest of the Easy Rawlins mysteries may find themselves overwhelmed by the number of characters in this novel, as they will have to meet both old and new figures and sort through their involvement. Those looking for a mystery with a smooth pace, humor, and a very involved narrator and those who are interested in postwar social interactions will find Mosley’s narrative captivating.
(via Killer Nashville)
Just before I was to enter the first grade, my parents decided that they needed a coffee table in the living room. That was back in the days when, in Los Angeles, there were two entry periods for the first grade: those children born nearest June started in September, and those whose birthdays occurred closer to December started in January. My birthday is January 12th, and so I matriculated at the top of 1958.
Somehow my parents decided that their table should also be my Christmas gift. They found an offer, from an encyclopedia company I think, that was a solid maple table with glass-covered bookshelves on either end. In these shelves resided, spine up, 12 red, clothbound volumes of fairy tales that were designed for young readers from 6 to 12 years in age. The first two books were for six-year-olds; the third and fourth volumes were for second graders, etc. It was, for me, an entire lifetime of reading there at the table where my parents entertained guests and watched the evening news.
I remember sitting on the floor next to that table reading those books I could and paging through the ones I didn’t fully understand. All the volumes were illustrated, and they felt big and fancy.
I don’t remember much about the stories, but that’s where I first met the elephant-king Babar and the little lost fairy named Poppy.
This Christmas gift was transformative for me because it was so beautiful, meant to last, and it was also a part of my parents, making the house we lived in a part of me. That’s what reading is — a way to socialize and civilize, the glue that holds us together.
Now in my later years, much older than my parents were when they gave me that exquisite present, all I have of those books is the nostalgia in my heart for the carpentry of my education and the love bound up in those big red books.
Rose Gold, By Walter Mosley
Doubleday, 309 pages, $30
Easy Rawlins, the black Los Angeles PI, is an inventive investigator and usually finds himself in intricate cases. But sometimes, reading the Rawlins books—this is the 13th—the plots seem excuses for Mosely to examine the psychological and linguistic complications that a black man with smarts experiences in interactions with the white world. The new book, set in 1974, offers such encounters in steady doses. Easy’s job is to run down a billionaire’s daughter who has either been kidnapped by a gang of radicals or, in the Patty Hearst model, has willingly joined them. On the way to the solution, the smooth, nervy Rawlins talks himself past countless varieties of nastiness.
In this terrific genre-defying work, Mosley (Rose Gold) uses an eons-old battle for control of existence as a backdrop for a character-driven novel of philosophy and social commentary. Ages ago, the Laz created the Silver Box to inflict torture on other life forms, but the Silver Box rebelled and imprisoned the Laz within itself. In the present day, black thug Ronnie Bottoms kills white Columbia student Lorraine Fell in Central Park, above the Box’s resting place. Lorraine’s spirit draws Ronnie back to her body and he resurrects her using the artifact’s power, but a sliver of the Laz escapes, so the Silver Box calls upon the unlikely duo to “try to save the Earth” and sends them on a journey to gain superpowers. Mosley really pulls out all the stops, managing with improbable success to combine a struggle for the fate of all existence with a story about two New Yorkers from very different backgrounds coming to understand each other and address the mistakes they’ve made in their own lives. Wild concepts and deep thoughts sit comfortably alongside the musings of ordinary people undergoing radical changes in this top-notch tale. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins/Loomis Agency. (Jan.)
Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
Ironically, the setting of Walter Mosley’s tragedy, “Lift,” is within the confines of an elevator. The two main characters, young Black professionals, discuss broader issues of race, class and relationships. Under the skilled direction of Marshall Jones III, Maameya Boafo and Biko Eisen-Martin breathe an attractive chemistry and depth into their roles as strangers trapped indefinitely in an elevator in their corporate office building. Read the rest of this entry »
Walter Mosley is tired of hearing how his City College of New York writing teacher, Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, told him to mine his background: “You’re black, Jewish, with a poor upbringing,” she told him. “There are riches therein.” But O’Brien gave him much more than that: “No one needs to tell me I’m black and Jewish,” he says. “Edna said I should write a novel, and I went out and wrote one.” He’s since written about three dozen of them, including a bestselling mystery series featuring a hardboiled detective named Easy Rawlins (“Devil in a Blue Dress”). Now Mosley’s making his NYC theatrical debut with his play, “Lift,” at off-Broadway’s 59E59 theaters, about two co-workers’ close encounter in an elevator. Here’s what’s in his library.