Saturday, December 8, 2007

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

by Walter Mosley

Socrates Fortlow, released from prison after 27 years for murder, tries to live with honor in Watts, without giving in to his murderous rage.  This is a collection of stories that originally appeared elsewhere, but interwoven with new material.  The immensely strong, guilt-ridden Socrates helps rid the neighborhood of a killer, takes in a young boy, convinces a man to stay with his wife, and insists on his rights when dealing with authority like the grocery store where he applies for a job.

It’s an amazing book, strong and blunt yet subtle.  Socrates is an all-too-human character: deeply flawed, but just trying to make his way in a world where the odds are stacked against him and to do the right thing.  He’s more than just a repentant man dealing out rough justice; he represents the anger and frustration inner-city blacks face dealing with crime, drugs, gangs, and absent fathers.  This is gritty and thought-provoking reading.

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