Monday, January 07, 2008

Always Outnumbered

Socrates Fortlow has been out of prison for eight years after having spent the previous twenty seven incarcerated for the murder of two people and rape of one of them. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley chronicles some of the experiences of Socrates in Los Angeles, mainly Watts, effectively portraying the culture and the character of Socrates and his interlocutors. I was impressed with the humanity evident in the protagonist's (dare I say hero?) actions and thoughts, particularly his rationality. He has developed an understanding of himself leading to a control that he did not have in his youth. The episodic nature of the novel provides for the introduction of a variety of characters and leads to several memorable scenes. They range from Socrates interaction with a young man whom he leads away from the life of crime to a touching scene at the end of the book where Socrates helps a dying man maintain some dignity as his life ebbs away. Mosley's spare writing style is very effective in this impressive read. Highly recommended.

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley. W. W. Norton & Co. New York, 1998.

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