- Publisher: Thorndike Press (2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0783889615
- ISBN-13: 978-0783889610
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 24.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 617 g
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
Walkin' the Dog (G K Hall Large Print Book Series) Hardcover – 2000
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Once he had dreamed up the Easy Rawlins series, with its colored-coded titles and suave protagonist, Walter Mosley could have coasted for the rest of his life. Instead he delved into impressionistic fiction (RL's Dream) and sci-fi (Blue Light)--and came up with his own variant on Ellison's invisible man, a forbidding ex-con named Socrates Fortlow. The author first introduced this inner-city philosopher in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, allowing him to vault one ethical hurdle after another. Now Socrates returns in Walkin' the Dog, still operating out of his tiny Watts apartment, still figuring precisely what to make of his freedom.
Like his dog, Killer--a spirited mutt who's missing his two hind legs--Socrates has to contend with a number of severe handicaps. Forget the fact that he's a black man in a white society. He's also the fall guy for every crime committed in the vicinity, a scapegoat of near-biblical proportions:
The police always came. They came when a grocery store was robbed or a child was mugged. They came for every dead body with questions and insinuations. Sometimes they took him off to jail. They had searched his house and given him a ticket for not having a license for his two-legged dog. They dropped by on a whim at times just in case he had done something that even they couldn't suspect.Yet Socrates is no poster child for racial victimization. Why? Because Mosley never soft-pedals the fact that he is, or was, a murderer. "He was a bad man," we are assured at one point. "He had done awful things." Deprived of any sort of sentimental pulpit, Socrates makes his moral determinations on the fly. Should he admit that he killed a mugger in self-defense? Can he force his adopted son Darryl to stay in school? Should he murder a corrupt cop who's terrorized his entire neighborhood? His answers are consistently surprising, and that fact--combined with the author's shrewd, no-nonsense prose--should make every reader long for Mosley's next excursion into the Socratic method. --James Marcus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Mosley can readily manage more than one empathetic series hero, and in Socrates Fortlow, introduced in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, he has a winner. Socrates is a former jailbird doing his best to go straight in a seamy Los Angeles full of temptation, and the novel is an examination, as powerfully relaxed as Socrates himself, of how his life works. He lives in a tiny shack in a back alley in Watts, tries to stay out of the way of the ever-suspicious cops, does a little loving (the cheerful sensuality of Mosley's writing about sex strikes exactly the right note), unwittingly acts as a role model for an unhappy teenager and eventually becomes a national symbol for his placard-wielding protest against police brutality. Where some writers would make this the pivot of their plot, it is no more than incidental to this tale, as Socrates continues to go on his quiet, unostentatious way until the fuss dies down. This is a deceptively low-key book that sneaks up on a reader with the realization of how much can be revealed by artfully chosen, dead-accurate dialogue, and how fully a uniquely admirable and always unexpected personality has been brought to life. Time Warner audio; 6-city author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Then there's his past: 27 years in prison for murders he committed in some kind of daze. He's not just haunted by the evil he's put into the world, he's possessed by it. He'll always carry prison inside of him--even his dreams return him to a claustrophobic cell--but he's determined to do right and teach others likewise.
He has to "see past bein' guilty" and that includes taking care of those who are helpless, guiding others with probing, Soctratic questions, and in effect nurturing a young black boy he works with. Fortlow may have lost his moral compass, but he's determined to fly right (as he sees it) and not let others do what he's done.
It's the combination of simmering rage and brutality with a hunger for redemption that makes Walter Mosley's new collection of stories about Fortlow edgy and at times profound.
The obstacles are enormous, because for the cops, this murderer is just "a prisoner-in-waiting." They come after him whenever there's a crime committed nearby and even "on a whim . . . just in case he had done something that even they couldn't suspect." Socrates has an ex-con's ability to sink into silence and out wait his oppressors, but in the end he'll take a very bold step--knowing "he had to stand up without killing--in his search for justice.
Socrates' moral sensibility searchlighting his life brings a kind of monumentality to the character, who is larger than life in many ways. With his two-legged dog, he seems a figure out of myth. Ralph Ellison's name is brought up in the book, but for me he recalls figures from the brooding romances of Hawthorne and Melville, a man irrevocably marked by his past.
The prose is finely crafted, supple, clear, powerful. The dialogue natural, and the truths fierce. This book is beautiful and sad, so compelling you may feel torn between wanting to gobble it down and read slowly to savor every insight. Not a bad dilemma.
"Walkin' the Dog" makes you care, makes you think, makes you glad Walter Mosley is writing. This is not a book you're likely to forget, and it's one you'll want to share.
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