Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Socrates Fortlow Series #1) by Walter Mosley | Audiobook (Cassette) | Barnes & Noble
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Socrates Fortlow Series #1)

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Socrates Fortlow Series #1)

4.5 11
by Walter Mosley
     
 

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November 1997

Meet Socrates Fortlow, a bold and original new hero: a tough, brooding ex-convict determined to challenge and understand the violence and anarchy in his world -- and in himself. In each of the stories that compose this richly brooding novel, Socrates Fortlow, like his namesake, explores philosophical questions of morality in a world beset with

Overview

November 1997

Meet Socrates Fortlow, a bold and original new hero: a tough, brooding ex-convict determined to challenge and understand the violence and anarchy in his world -- and in himself. In each of the stories that compose this richly brooding novel, Socrates Fortlow, like his namesake, explores philosophical questions of morality in a world beset with crime, poverty, and racism.

In his own words, Walter Mosley describes his latest novel, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, as "a story about a 60-something ex-con after he's spent 27 years in prison for a heinous double murder. It's a group of short stories in which Socrates Fortlow attempts to find a sense of morality and ethics way down below the template of middle-class justice."

With Always Outnumbered Always Outgunned, Mosley takes a break from his critically acclaimed Easy Rawlins series, the chronicles of a rather reluctant detective (and natural-born existentialist). Mosley is the author of six bestselling Easy Rawlins mysteries: Devil in a Blue Dress (the recent film adaptation starred Denzel Washington), A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, and most recently, A Little Yellow Dog and Gone Fishin'. In August 1995 he published his first nonmystery, RL's Dream, to widespread praise. His next novel, an anxiously awaited sci-fi thriller, is called Blue Light and will be the first novel in his all new Invasion of Light trilogy, about the invasion of earth.

Editorial Reviews

Elle

Mournful, insightful, and mystical. It is also Mosley's best work of fiction.

Denver Post

A wonderful book...[with] characters who seem as real as the reader.

Booklist

Powerful...hard-hitting, unrelenting, poignant short fiction.

Publishers Weekly

Unveiling a new, bigger-than-life urban hero...Mosley...confer[s] on the mean streets of contemporary L.A. what filmmaker John Ford helped create for the American West: a gun-slinging mythology of street justice and a gritty, elegiac code of honor...A maverick protagonist.

Playboy

Tough but touching stories.

Sonoma County Independent

An insistently probing, philosophical gem...set in a world where standard notions of right and wrong have been blown to hell.

The Los Angeles Times Book Review

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned is the work of a writer unafraid of pushing forward his own notions of responsibility and entitlement.

Library Journal
Mosley introduces an unlikely hero in Socrates Fortlow, a rough-hewn yet thoughtful ex-con who, like his Greek namesake, is prone to asking big moral questions. Having spent 27 years in an Indiana prison and now living in Watts (in Los Angeles), Socrates is trying to redeem a misspent life while avoiding his own worst tendencies. He risks his safety to help a young boy struggling with his own conscience and tries to show mercy to an old friend dying of cancer. When he attempts to help a dog run over by a callous motorist, Socrates gives in to his anger and suddenly finds himself on the verge of returning to jail. While the novel can be a bit contrived or didactic in places, readers will find Socrates an intriguing enough character to overlook these flaws. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/97.]Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass.
From the Publisher
Elle Mournful, insightful, and mystical. It is also Mosley's best work of fiction.

Denver Post A wonderful book...[with] characters who seem as real as the reader.

San Francisco Chronicle Mosley has constructed a perfect Socrates for millennium's end — a principled man who finds that the highest meaning of life can be attained through self-knowledge, and who convinces others of the power and value of looking within.

Booklist Powerful...hard-hitting, unrelenting, poignant short fiction.

Sven Birkerts The New York Times Book Review Mosley's style suits his subject perfectly. The prose is sand-papery, the sentence rhythms often rough and jabbing. But then — sudden surprise — we come upon moments of undefended lyricism.

Publishers Weekly Unveiling a new, bigger-than-life urban hero...Mosley...confer[s] on the mean streets of contemporary L.A. what filmmaker John Ford helped create for the American West: a gun-slinging mythology of street justice and a gritty, elegiac code of honor...A maverick protagonist.

Playboy Tough but touching stories.

Amazon.com Gritty and lyrical, the interlinked stories are stamped with Mosley's unique brand of street-smart comedy.

Sonoma County Independent An insistently probing, philosophical gem...set in a world where standard notions of right and wrong have been blown to hell.

The Los Angeles Times Book Review Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned is the work of a writer unafraid of pushing forward his own notions of responsibility and entitlement.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780787121990
Publisher:
NewStar Media, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Series:
Socrates Fortlow Series, #1
Edition description:
Unabridged Selections, 2 Cassettes

Read an Excerpt

Crimson Shadow: Section One

"What you doin' there, boy?"

It was six a.m. Socrates Fortlow had come out to the alley, to see what was wrong with Billy. He hadn't heard him crow that morning and was worried about his old friend.

The sun was just coming up. The alley was almost pretty with the trash and broken asphalt covered in half-light. Discarded wine bottles shone like murky emeralds in the sludge. In the dawn shadows Socrates didn't even notice the boy until he moved. He was standing in front of a small cardboard box, across the alley — next to Billy's wire fence.

"What bidness is it to you, old man?" the boy answered. He couldn't have been more than twelve but he had that hard convict stare.

Socrates knew convicts, knew them inside and out.

"I asked you a question, boy. Ain't yo' momma told you t'be civil?"

"Shit!" The boy turned away, ready to leave. He wore baggy jeans with a blooming blue T-shirt over his bony arms and chest. His hair was cut close to the scalp.

The boy bent down to pick up the box.

"What they call you?" Socrates asked the skinny butt stuck up in the air.

"What's it to you?"

Socrates pushed open the wooden fence and leapt. If the boy hadn't had his back turned he would have been able to dodge the stiff lunge. As it was he heard something and moved quickly to the side.

Quickly. But not quickly enough.

Socrates grabbed the skinny arms with his big hands — the rock breakers, as Joe Benz used to call them.

"Ow! Shit!"

Socrates shook the boy until the serrated steak knife, which had appeared from nowhere, fell from his hand.

The old brown rooster was dead in the box. His head slashed so badly that half of the beak was gone.

"Let me loose, man." The boy kicked, but Socrates held him at arm's length.

"Don't make me hurt you, boy," he warned. He let go of one arm and said, "Pick up that box. Pick it up!" When the boy obeyed, Socrates pulled him by the arm — dragged him through the gate, past the tomato plants and string bean vines, into the two rooms where he'd stayed since they'd let him out of prison.

The kitchen was only big enough for a man and a half. The floor was pitted linoleum; maroon where it had kept its color, gray where it had worn through. There was a card table for dining and a fold-up plastic chair for a seat. There was a sink with a hot plate on the drainboard and shelves that were once cabinets — before the doors were torn off.

The light fixture above the sink had a sixty-watt bulb burning in it. The room smelled of coffee. A newspaper was spread across the table.

Socrates shoved the boy into the chair, not gently.

"Sit'own!"

There was a mass of webbing next to the weak lightbulb. A red spider picked its way slowly through the strands.

"What's your name, boy?" Socrates asked again.

"Darryl."

There was a photograph of a painting tacked underneath the light. It was the image of a black woman in the doorway of a house. She wore a red dress and a red hat to protect her eyes from the sun. She had her arms crossed under her breasts and looked angry. Darryl stared at the painting while the spider danced above.

"Why you kill my friend, asshole?"

"What?" Darryl asked. There was fear in his voice.

"You heard me."

"I-I-I din't kill nobody." Darryl gulped and opened his eyes wider than seemed possible. "Who told you that?"

When Socrates didn't say anything, Darryl jumped up to run, but the man socked him in the chest, knocking the wind out of him, pushing him back down in the chair.

Socrates squatted down and scooped the rooster up out of the box. He held the limp old bird up in front of Darryl's face.

"Why you kill Billy, boy?"

"That's a bird." Darryl pointed. There was relief mixed with panic in his eyes.

"That's my friend."

"You crazy, old man. That's a bird. Bird cain't be nobody's friend." Darryl's words were still wild. Socrates knew the guilty look on his face.

He wondered at the boy and at the rooster that had gotten him out of his bed every day for the past eight years. A rage went through him and he crushed the rooster's neck in his fist.

"You crazy," Darryl said.

A large truck made its way down the alley just then. The heavy vibrations went through the small kitchen, making plates and tinware rattle loudly.

Socrates shoved the corpse into the boy's lap. "Get ovah there to the sink an' pluck it."

"Shit!"

"You don't have to do it..."

"You better believe I ain't gonna..."

"...but I will kick holy shit outta you if you don't."

"Pluck what? What you mean, pluck it?"

"I mean go ovah t'that sink an' pull out the feathers. What you kill it for if you ain't gonna pluck it?"

"I'as gonna sell it."

"Sell it?"

"Yeah," Darryl said. "Sell it to some old lady wanna make some chicken."

Copyright © 1998 by Walter Mosley

What People are saying about this

Sven Birkets
A striking departure from the familiar event-driven world of Easy Rawlins. The 14 loosely linked vignettes and tales incorporate the Platonic dialogues as a kind of ghost melody; signature strains of the classic are vamped up in the rough demotic of present-day Watts.

Meet the Author

WALTER MOSLEY is the author of 12 books and the creator of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins mystery series. Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals. He is the first artist-in-residence at New York University, and his work often appears in GQ, The New Yorker, and USA Weekend.

WALTER MOSLEY is the author of 12 books and the creator of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins mystery series. Devil in a Blue Dress was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals. He is the first artist-in-residence at New York University, and his work often appears in GQ, The New Yorker, and USA Weekend.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
January 12, 1952
Place of Birth:
Los Angeles, California
Education:
B.A., Johnson State College
Website:
http://www.waltermosley.com

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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One word. Powerful. I couldn't put it down.
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aquilagold More than 1 year ago
The title is brilliant. My favorite Walter Mosley book is Walkin' the Dog. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned is the first Fortlow book and introduces Socrates and the dog, as well. Like its title,the book is brilliant in its brevity and power.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
As a life long fan of Muhammad Ali's, I have come to develop a certain affection for some of the men that he beat- especially the Big Ol' Ugly Bear, Charles 'Sonny' Liston. Despite his public persona as the ultimate tough guy, Liston was a kind and decent man at heart. He was kind to children, animals, and especially devoted to his wife, Geraldine. Born black in the deep south, and one of something like 25 children, he lived a life that few of us, fortunately, know anything about. Because of his background, or despite it (you take your pick),There was a wisdom to the man, a decency, and it is that wisdom and decency that Walter Mosley has brought to life in the character of Socrates Fortlow. If Liston had not be rescued or destroyed by boxing (again, take your pick), 'Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned' could have easily have been his life story. A great and unforgetable work of literature!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection of short stories demonstrates very convincingly that most of us have no clue about the African-American experience. There is a different code of ethics, different day-to-day priorities and different definitions about what makes a good life. Different definitions for words like ... possessions, love, time, life, death, place, security, children, want, lust. But Socrates becomes too predictable by the fourth or fifth story. You know he's going to maintain control of his violent impulses, except when used for good causes. Then he becomes an almost cartoon Superman. And when the most dreaded thing happens -- he faces going back to jail -- it's over a dog. That kind of sympathetic chain pulling is older than Charlie Chaplin. I liked Mouse better as a character formed by his upbringing and environment. This is not genre, like the Easy Rawlins books. This has potential for literature, but it's too easily bad and too easily moral. Socrates needs to make more mistakes and the endings of the stories need to be less pat. Needs subtlety.