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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)

Parishioner, Publishers Weekly Review

Parishioner

Walter Mosley. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, $9.99 e-book (279p) ISBN 978-0-345-80444-0

Many of Mosley’s heroes are men who are or have been brutal and are certainly still dangerous—men like Fearless Jones, Leonid McGill, Easy Rawlins, and Easy’s friend, Raymond “Mouse” Alexander—and all have their redeeming qualities. Xavier “Ecks” Rule may be the worst, having “beaten, raped, and murdered my brothers and sisters,” until he meets Father Frank, whose Seabreeze City, Calif., congregation consists of 96 similarly lost souls. Father Frank gives Ecks a mission to aid Benol Richards, who as a young woman 23 years earlier helped her lover, Brayton Starmon, kidnap and sell three babies. Now Benol wants to make amends, and Ecks reluctantly agrees to help. Sordid tales mingle with trials, redemptions, and philosophy grounded in gritty experiences as Ecks follows cold clues into hot action. Ecks’s world is populated with some of Mosley’s most colorful and memorable characters, from Father Frank, who never invokes God, to the edgy parishioners who make up his flock. No Mosley fan should risk missing this scintillating novel. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins Loomis Agency. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 02/01/2013 | Details & Permalink