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From Marilynne Robinson to Richard Ford, six writers in search of Trump’s America

Giants of American literature reveal how they are responding to a transformed society

by Robert McCrum, The Guardian

From Marilynne Robinson to Richard Ford, six writers in search of Trump's America

Ariel Levy, Richard Ford, Marilynne Robinson, Walter Mosley, Malcolm Gladwell, Lionel Shriver. Composite: Getty Images, Karen Robinson, Tim Knox, Murdo Macleod

On the night of 8 November 2016, the United States, a mature republic of 241 summers, experienced a dreadful upset and fell into a condition that hovered between catatonia and hysteria.

On college campuses, young women were throwing up. Others were setting fire to things, or phoning their families in tears. Among distraught middle-class Democrats, there was a dramatic spike in psychotherapeutic appointments. Across New York City, a spontaneous graffito, “Not My President”, summarised the metropolitan mood.

As the tide of history slackened towards Christmas, the national response moved through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining and depression. Come the new year, there has been the beginning of the fifth stage, acceptance. The end is nigh is the consensus, but not that nigh.

Besides, there are remedies. Americans know that, ever since Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, theirs is a society constructed with strokes of the pen, in words. Their constitution is a work in progress, constantly rewritten, and the power of an idea is stronger than a demagogue with no ideology. American writers know this better than anyone.

As the unanticipated transition from Obama to Trump gathered momentum, I set out across the east coast to meet six authors – Marilynne Robinson, Richard Ford, Walter Mosley, Ariel Levy, Malcolm Gladwell, and Lionel Shriver – in search of a new society. Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping and Gilead, is one of Obama’s favourite writers. She understands America’s frontier instincts, and she’s a Christian, which connects her to another part of the American dream. In conversation with her, the rewriting of America seems at once rational and practicable. Her articulate resilience suggests that the republic is probably not yet “broken”. In her company, the challenge of the new administration seems answered by the integrity, candour, and good humour of the American mind at its best. Talk to Robinson, and you can detect the beginnings of an opposition to Trump. She admits she has been galvanised by America’s crisis. “I’m frankly sort of glad that this bizarre thing has happened,” she says. “Trump has brought us to a state where we will have to do a lot of very basic thinking about how our society goes on from this point.” Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Mystery and Thrillers Not to Miss

Charcoal Joe, by Walter Mosley (Doubleday)

Charcoal Joe (Easy Rawlins Mystery #14) by Walter Mosley, Michael Boatman (Narration): Boatman is the perfect narrator for this hard-boiled detective novel, and exactly what I imagined Easy Rawlins to sound like. Set in late 1960s L.A., you get a good mystery–Rawlins is forced on a murder case by a man Rawlins is wise to not say no to–a ladies’ man PI, Mosley’s detailed writing for even minor characters come vividly alive, and an unflinching view of racial tensions. While it’s 14th in the series it also worked as a standalone for me. If you’re looking for more Mosley here’s a reading pathways.

(via bookriot.com)

Strand Magazine Issue 50

Strand MagazineThe fall issue of the Strand will include a short story by H.G. Wells that has never been published before, titled “The Haunted Ceiling,” this hidden gem is part supernatural, part psychological and is rich in atmosphere. Our 50th issue will also feature a exclusive interview with the talented and prolific Walter Mosley, where the celebrated author of the Easy Rawlins series spoke about noir legends, the craft of writing, and what inspires him to write, as well as fiction by Craig Johnson, John Floyd, Jeffrey Pearce, and Larry Millet.

The 10 Best Crime Novels of 2016

The 10 Best Crime Novels of 2016
Although it wasn’t done by design, this year’s 10 Best Crime Novels fall neatly into various subgenres. So what you’re really getting are my choices for: Best Rural Mystery Set in Mississippi, Best Mystery Featuring a Drug-Addicted Private Eye, Best Historical Mystery Set in the 14th Century and so on.

CHARCOAL JOE. By Walter Mosley. (Doubleday, $26.95.)Mosley’s mellow private eye, Easy Rawlins, is talking his way through another case in this period mystery set in 1968, when black neighborhoods are still seething with rage after the Watts riots. In this heated climate, Easy is . . . well, easy. No furies in his brain, no fires in his gut, just an unquenchable curiosity about people and their obsessions. Favorite characters like Jackson Blue and Fearless Jones provide backup for Easy, an unconventional hero who’s unafraid to lower his fists and use his brain.

(via The New York Times)

Finding a Resilient Spirit at the 2016 National Book Awards

Holding court near the bar, Walter Mosley was practically joyous. He wouldn’t give Trump the satisfaction of having gained power (much less the popular vote). “People in power are the people who are gonna respond to what happened in the election — that’s the power,” he said. “I’m not sure if that’s the people in this room, but I’m sure we’re in that mode. If you have somebody who represents you,” — e.g., Obama — “you’re less likely to stand up for what’s right. But now, you have no choice. So, hey, that’s great. America’s gonna have some fun.” Read the rest of this entry »

Novelist Walter Mosley Talks Luke Cage, Colorism, and Why Spider-Man Was the ‘First Black Superhero’

Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley, comics geek.
Photo: Desiree Navarro/WireImage

Whatever you think of Marvel’s Luke Cage, you can’t say it’s not literate. A bevy of books are either seen or name-checked throughout the latest Netflix superhero series, and one that gets a particularly bright place in the spotlight is Little Green, a novel by one of the most prolific and acclaimed living crime-fiction writers, Walter Mosley. In the second episode, two of the leads debate the comparative merits of Mosley and fellow African-American crime novelist Donald Goines — and the one going to bat for Mosley is none other than the title character. As it turns out, the feeling of respect is mutual: Mosley is a longtime superhero-comics geek and grew up reading Luke’s initial comic-book adventures in the early 1970s. We caught up with the author to talk respectability politics, the thorny issue of colorism, and why he thinks Spider-Man was the first black superhero.

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Walter Mosley on the mysterious future beyond the frames of capitalism and socialism

“We have to recognize the failure of capitalism. We have to recognize the impossibility of socialism. We have to recognize what it is that we’re working for in the world, which is basically as good a life as we can get in this brief span that we have. And we have to recognize who we are in relation to these things – and not allow these incredible, large systems which govern us, but don’t care about us – to take over.”

Author Walter Mosley explores the mysteries of life, labor and freedom in the 21st century – from the failures of global capitalism and the impossibility of socialism, to technology’s toll on humanity’s understanding of itself, its needs and its limitations – and explains why building a future that serves humankind starts with destroying the ideological frames that reduce people to servants of a system, not masters of their potential.

(via thisishell.com)

THE NYPL Podcast #127: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walter Mosley on Empire, English, and Beethoven

Six-time NBA champ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may be best known as the leading scorer in professional basketball of all time. Yet Abdul-Jabbar is also a major editorialist and an author books such as Mycroft and Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White. Recently, he joined the prolific novelist Walter Mosley at LIVE from the NYPL. For this week’s episode of the New York Public Library, we’re proud to present Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Walter Mosley discussing depictions of the British Empire, a lifelong love of English, and how Beethoven inspired concentration.

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Walter Mosley On The Stories Of LA Told Through Easy Rawlins

In 1990, Walter Mosley first told the story of black postwar LA through Easy Rawlins, an Army vet turned private eye. It became Mosley’s best-known series. He discusses Easy’s creation and journey.
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Walter Mosley: ‘Donald Trump is a lazy, spoilt guy’

Walter Mosley

As his latest detective novel drops, the writer muses on Obama, the Clintons, and how his own father is like his celebrated protagonist, Easy Rawlins

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton flashed a copy of Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress and proclaimed the writer his favorite novelist, shooting Mosley to mainstream fame. Now Mosley’s legendary Los Angeles detective Ezekiel “Easy” Porterhouse Rawlins, played by Denzel Washington in a 1995 film adaptation of Devil in a Blue Dress, is celebrating his 25th anniversary in Mosley’s new novel, Charcoal Joe.

“Bill was a really smart guy. He knew my books better than I did,” Mosley says in his soothing baritone, talking to me from St Louis on Charcoal Joe’s release tour. “He read them very closely. We were sitting at dinner one day and he was talking about how the books were about migration. Clinton was talking about how these characters had moved, and in that new place had created a place of power.” Mosley says that he strongly disagrees with some of Clinton’s policies, though he remains a supporter.

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