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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)

Seattle Times: New crime fiction

By Adam Woog, Special to The Seattle Times

This month’s selection of crime fiction features two memorable private eyes and a square-jawed veteran of World War I.

Walter Mosley is renowned for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, but And Sometimes I Wonder About You (Doubleday, 288 pp., $26.95) falls into one of this prolific author’s other series — and it’s equally exhilarating.

Leonid McGill is a gumshoe with a past: The “post-black” P.I. grew up on New York City’s mean streets and is forever seeking to atone for past sins. He’s also got a remarkably messy personal life (many kids, mentally unstable wife, multiple affairs, politically radical father, etc.).

McGill, powerful but short, also has a strange mental tic: precisely describing the height of every man he meets. (Full disclosure: I am also height-challenged, but I like to think I’m not as preoccupied about it as McGill is.)

The book’s plot includes a gorgeous woman in danger, a Fagin-like mastermind with a network of child criminals, and a murdered homeless guy. Mosley doesn’t resolve these complex stories neatly, but then he’s never been as interested in plotting as he is in creating vivid characters and bracing, rat-a-tat prose — both of which are in abundance here.

(via Seattle Times)

Book review: ‘And Sometimes I Wonder About You’

Never a dull moment with McGill

BY DREW GALLAGHER/FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

And Sometimes I Wonder About You“And Sometimes I Wonder About You” is Walter Mosley’s 49th novel. Odds are that most readers will be only fortunate enough to read a handful of Mosley’s books, and that’s if their reading schedule allows them to ever read any at all. They should make room in that schedule. In fact, just about every time I finish a Mosley novel I think that a year spent reading only his books would be an interesting way to spend “A Year of Walter Mosley,” if you will.

But if you don’t have the time or inclination to read all 49 Mosley novels, “And Sometimes I Wonder About You” can serve as an example of what Mosley does exceptionally well—entertain the reader.

“And Sometimes . . .” is the fifth Leonid McGill mystery and finds that, although the New York City-based private investigator may be slowing down, his caseload is not. Work always seems to find McGill and with it usually comes a healthy dose of trouble and a muzzle or two placed on his temple or in his rib cage.

“I was beginning to detect a pattern in my life. This model of behavior was a hybrid of capitalist necessity and proletarian existentialist angst; or, more accurately, modern-day potentates and their anger-driven gunsels.”

Though McGill and his cases are always interesting, a lot of the fun in reading Mosley comes from his descriptions and language. For example: “. . . and a love seat made for very small lovers or maybe one fat-bottomed solipsist.” Shakespeare would have been proud of that line.

McGill always seems to be juggling three or four cases at a time, and when “And Sometimes . . . ” opens, it looks like he’s about to enter a short expanse of leisure time with nothing on his day planner—until the most beautiful woman he has ever seen takes a seat next to him on a train.

He knows she’s trouble from the moment he sets eyes on her, but McGill figures we all have to die someday, and there are much worse ways of going than in this woman’s company.

Of course the woman in the train comes with the anticipated trouble and then there’s his son, Twill, an aspiring PI like his father, who seems to have uncovered a city-wide ring of criminals more heinous and foul than any McGill has encountered previously.

The woman and the ring of criminals have more in common than one might anticipate, since they both require a lot of thinking over cognac and afford McGill very little sleep. It is, after all, a Walter Mosley novel.

Drew Gallagher is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.

(via fredricksburg.com)

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