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Publishers Weekly Review: Elements of Fiction

Elements of Fiction

Walter Mosley. Grove, $23 (128p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4763-9

Drawing on a prolific and successful crime fiction career, Mosley (John Woman) returns to elucidating the author’s craft, after 2007’s This Year You Write Your Novel, in this compact but insight-rich monograph. He addresses plot structure, character development, authorial voice, and the journey from a blank page, the would-be writer’s “first impediment and biggest obstacle,” to the final stage of “putting it all together.” Along the way, Mosley addresses other issues, such as the writer’s sensation of a “loss of control in the face of his or her own story,” and deciding whether or not to enter writing workshops; he warns that “what people, institutions, and economic systems expect should not define you.” Mosley’s fundamental offering, supplemented with some tricks of the trade, is a message of encouragement, as when he addresses the virtue of improvising (“The novel flourishes when its author begins to take risks”) or the value of rewriting (“the beauty of writing that you can go back and make changes that will be everything you meant to say and not one word you didn’t”). Mosley has skillfully packed a large canvas into a small frame, which should equally please readers who enjoy seeing a writer at work and writers in need of assistance. (Sept.)

(via Publishers Weekly)

Southwest Books of the Year: Ring in 2019 with some regional reads

Arizona Daily Star
Jan 6, 2019

If you’ve been looking to sink your teeth into some southwestern-themed literature, we have a list of the best reads of 2018 courtesy the Pima County Public Library and Friends of the Pima County Public Library.

The 42nd annual edition of “Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2018” looks to shine a light on titles about Southwest subjects or that are set in the Southwest.

The top picks were reviewed by a panel of six subject specialists and come recommended by two or more panelists.

Selections range from fiction and mysteries to history, poetry, art, food, and nature writing — all specific to our corner of the planet.

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18 Brilliant Books for Fall: John Woman

John WomanJohn Woman
By Walter Mosley
320 pages; Atlantic Monthly Press
Available at:

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble |iBooks | IndieBound
After murdering a man, 17-year-old Cornelius flees New York, adopts a new name, and gains fame for the provocative ideas he’s borrowed from his dead father. An intellectual romp by the renowned mystery writer.
— Hamilton Cain

(via oprah.com)

John Woman

John Woman

AmazonB&NYour local bookstore Available: Sept 4, 2018

A convention-defying novel by bestselling writer Walter Mosley, John Woman recounts the transformation of an unassuming boy named Cornelius Jones into John Woman, an unconventional history professor―while the legacy of a hideous crime lurks in the shadows.

At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself―as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman’s teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.

Engaging with some of the most provocative ideas of recent intellectual history, John Woman is a compulsively readable, deliciously unexpected novel about the way we tell stories, and whether the stories we tell have the power to change the world.

Walter Mosley: Enough with the Victors Writing History

They burn whatever and whoever disagrees with our conception of the world

September 5, 2108
By Walter Mosley
LitHub.com

For more than 15 years I’ve been working on a novel called John Woman. You might say that I’ve been pondering this idea my entire adult life, ever since I enrolled at the radical arts institution, Goddard College, up in Vermont.

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