Life Out of Context

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Life Out of Context begins as a powerful, brooding and humorously honest examination of Mosley's own sense of cultural dislocation as an African American writer. But due to a series of serendipitous events — the screening of a documentary about Africa, an encounter with Harry Belafonte and Hugh Masakela — Mosley, rather like the protagonist in one of his mystery novels, has a series of epiphanies on the role of a black intellectual in America. He asks: What can we do to fight injustice, poverty, exploitation, ...
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Overview


Life Out of Context begins as a powerful, brooding and humorously honest examination of Mosley's own sense of cultural dislocation as an African American writer. But due to a series of serendipitous events — the screening of a documentary about Africa, an encounter with Harry Belafonte and Hugh Masakela — Mosley, rather like the protagonist in one of his mystery novels, has a series of epiphanies on the role of a black intellectual in America. He asks: What can we do to fight injustice, poverty, exploitation, and racism? What is globalization doing to us? Through these late night meditations, Mosley attempts to transcend his earlier feelings of living a "life out of context" and seeks instead to find a political context. He ends with a call to arms, proposing that African Americans have to break their historic ties with the Democrat Party, and form a party of their own
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The isolation and ineffectuality of the American left is lamented in this brooding, somewhat unfocused cri de coeur. Writing primarily for an African-American audience, novelist Mosley (the Easy Rawlins mystery series) argues that today's political myopia and paralysis are caused by a lack of "context." Americans, he contends, dwell on their own problems while ignoring the global context of oppression and exploitation-in Iraq, Africa and elsewhere-in which they are complicit. They are in turn shut out of decision-making forums, whose agenda is set mainly by the narrow interests of the wealthy and privileged. The efforts of progressive groups, meanwhile, lack any unified context and rallying point, and are therefore fragmented and dispersed among a myriad of causes. These musings prompt a number of suggestions, some of which-like giant downtown video screens to project images of humanitarian crises abroad-the author almost immediately retracts. Mosley's most substantive proposal is to challenge the two-party duopoly with a black political party; unfortunately, however, he does not discuss ways to lower the formidable institutional barriers to third parties in the American electoral system. In the end, he falls back on platitudes about the need for citizens to get involved and speak truth to power. Fine sentiments, indeed, but they fall well short of a cogent guide to action. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560258469
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 1/9/2006
  • Pages: 103
  • Product dimensions: 4.92 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Meet the Author


Walter Mosley is the author of 19 books which, over the course of the fourteen years of his career, span two series of mysteries, literary fiction, science fiction, and political philosophy. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors unusual for a writer of fiction including a Grammy Award for his liner notes accompanying “Richard Pryor…And It’s Deep Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992)” and the Sundance Institute Risk-Takers Award for 2004. He will be given an honorary doctorate this year by City College of New York. He was the founder of the first-ever degree program to help train publishing professionals and encourage publishing houses to hire more candidates of color at City College. In addition, PEN West will honor him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He has also been honored by TransAfrica Forum, was a recipient of the prestigious Anisfield Wolf Award, and served as editor for The Best American Short Stories of 2003.

Biography

When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.

Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first Easy Rawlins book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did -- and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.

Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere -- the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles -- truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.

In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."

Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!

Good To Know

Mosley won a Grammy award in 2002 in the category of "Best Album Notes" for Richard Pryor.... And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.

In our 2004 interview, Mosley reveals:

"I was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing my first book. I am an avid collector of comic books. And I believe that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Johnson State College
    2. Website:

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