Saturday, October 22, 2011

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Norton, 1997).

I thought that I'd try a few things by Walter Mosley. I enjoyed his Black Betty some years ago and am looking forward to rereading it, and so I picked up a pair of his many other books. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned introduced a new character named Socrates Fortlow, who was played by Laurence Fishburne in a TV-movie adaptation of this set of short stories. Fortlow is a thoughtful but rage-filled ex-con who let his temper run away with him only once, at entirely the wrong time, and since his release, he's been eking out a tough existence in a two-room apartment in Watts.

While this is a collection of short stories, it's not a simple anthology. Each of these tales builds on the events of the previous story, and certainly reads as well as any deliberately-constructed novel. Fortlow is a fascinating character, and it's illuminating to see the directions that his wounded pride takes him. At one point, it gets him a needed job, but it also gets him in confrontations that really should have been avoided.

This was a very unpredictable and satisfying read, with moments where it gets really sad and touching. I think this goes a long way towards cementing Mosley's status as one of the most important authors of the last twenty years. Recommended.

1 comment:

Alan David Doane said...

Loved the movie adaptation of this, which I didn't realize was an adaptation. Sounds like a fascinating read. Might check it out when I whittle my current reading stack down a bit...