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R L'S Dream

R L'S Dream

4.4 11
by Walter Mosley

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Soupspoon Wise is dying on the unforgiving streets of New York City, years and worlds away from the Mississippi delta, where he once jammed with blues legend Robert "RL" Johnson. It was an experience that burned indelibly into Soupspoon's soul -- never mind that they said RL's gift came from the Devil himself. Now it's Soupspoon's turn to strike a deal with a stranger


Soupspoon Wise is dying on the unforgiving streets of New York City, years and worlds away from the Mississippi delta, where he once jammed with blues legend Robert "RL" Johnson. It was an experience that burned indelibly into Soupspoon's soul -- never mind that they said RL's gift came from the Devil himself. Now it's Soupspoon's turn to strike a deal with a stranger. An alcoholic angel of mercy, Kiki Waters isn't much better off than Soupspoon, but she too is a child of the South, and knows its pull. And she is determined to let Soupspoon ride out the final notes of his haunting blues dream, to pour out the remarkable tale of what he's seen, where he's been -- and where he's going.
Winner of the 1996 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award in Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After four increasingly well-received crime novels starring Los Angeles PI Easy Rawlins, Mosley has moved strongly ahead to a more searching and deeply felt style and subject. He writes here of Atwater "Soupspoon"' Wise, a battered, failing relic of a man who once played backup to legendary Delta jazz guitarist Robert "RL" Johnson and who is now barely surviving on New York's Lower East Side. When we meet him, Soupspoon, who has cancer, is being evicted from his tiny apartment. Enter Kiki Waters, a hard-drinking, profane redhead who fled a life of horror and incest in Arkansas and now ekes out an uneasy living at a Wall Street insurance firm. With her tough street smarts, she stops the eviction cold, uses her office know-how to fake lavish health insurance for Soupspoon and moves him in with her. They cling together, these two outcasts from hard times, Soupspoon with a gentleness born of deep resignation, Kiki with a protective desperation fueled by booze and rage. Gradually, Soupspoon's life begins to mend: someone he knew as a kid in the South offers him a gig at his after-hours drinking place; a pretty young girl is drawn to his sweetness. But for Kiki, the only way out is through violence and flight. Mosley has always been a vivid writer, but here his work achieves a constant level of dark poetry: he flawlessly integrates Soupspoon's and Kiki's past harsh lives and memories with the keenly observed contemporary New York slum scene as the bittersweet blues constantly sound somber chords beneath. There is no false sentimental note anywhere in the book, just a deeply moving creation of two extraordinary people who achieve a powerful humanity where it would seem almost impossible it should exist.
Library Journal
Atwater "Soupspoon" Wise, an aging bluesman in New York City, is evicted from his apartment. Kiki Waters, a young white woman, takes him in, nursing him back to health and forging the necessary health insurance information to get him treated for cancer. The two form a strange friendship; both are from the South, and both have left behind pasts that demand to be dealt with. Soupspoon knew the legendary Robert "RL" Johnson in his youth and is haunted by the desire to learn the secret of Johnson's music; Kiki was abused by her father and ran away in her early teens. Mosley's swirl of characters, locales, and memories is intoxicating, and the plot moves forward relentlessly, taut as the mystery novels (e.g., Black Betty, LJ 5/1/94) for which he is renowned. Highly recommended.
Bill Ott
Walter Mosley's first novel outside the confines of the crime genre proves every bit as distinctive as his celebrated Easy Rawlins mysteries. A searingly eloquent requiem for a bluesman, the book tells the story of Soupspoon Wise, a 70-year-old blues guitar player and singer from the Mississippi Delta, who faces the horror of a lonely death in New York City. Evicted from his Lower East Side apartment, he is rescued from the street by Kiki, a young southern woman with problems of her own; these two very different characters _ one young, white, angry, and on the run from an abusive family; the other old, black, world weary, and living on his memories of playing with legendary bluesman Robert "RL" Johnson 7#95; offer one another an opportunity to sort through their pasts and to reconnect with their emotional selves. Mosley's real subject here is pain, the agony of its all-too-specific reality and the oddly transforming way that sharing one's pain, whether through music or words or love, can keep the demons at bay, at least momentarily. It's not a new subject_pain is as old as life_but Mosley makes it new by pulling the threads that connect Soupspoon7#39;s pain to Kiki's, your pain to mine. That's what bluesmen do, of course, and it's what Robert Johnson did better than any of them: "Robert Johnson's blues would rip the skin right off yo' back. Robert Johnson's blues get down to a nerve most people don't even have no more." It's that nerve Mosley is searching for here, and when he finds it, you feel it. Yes, it hurts, but, like the blues, it hurts in that good kind of way.
Tom De Haven
Heartstopping...a beautiful little masterpiece...a meditation on the history and meaning of the blues and, in its sorrowful lyric, virtually a blues song itself...every part of this novel -- every page -- comes alive. -- Entertainment Weekly
Fredric Koeppel
You won't be prepared for the brilliance and adventuresome nature of RL'S DREAM…filled with reckless humor, sorrow and abandon that are as exhilarating as they are provocative.
—Fredric Koeppel, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Digby Diehl
The most powerful and poetic novel about black life in America since Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man…Harsh, uplifting and unforgettable.
—Digby Diehl, Playboy
Danielle Taylor
Fans of Mosley's Easy Rawlins series will not be disappointed by RL'S DREAM…Mosley's sense of timing and mystery is as powerful as ever…Mosley is a master storyteller, and in RL'S DREAM the blues are real.
—Danielle Taylor—Guthrie, Chicago Tribune

Product Details

Washington Square Press
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Meet the Author

Walter Mosley is the New York Times bestselling author of five Easy Rawlins mysteries: Devil in A Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, and A Little Yellow Dog; three non-mystery novels, Blue Light, Gone Fishin', and R. L.'s Dream; two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award, and which was an HBO movie; and a nonfiction book, Workin' On The Chain Gang. Mosley is also the author of the Leonid McGill, and Fearless Jones mystery series, The Tempest Tales and Six Easy Pieces. He is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America, a founder of the PEN American Center Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. A native of Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

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

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RL's Dream 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having read all of the author's books to date, RL's Dream is his best literary work, in my opinion. Easy Rawlins and company have wonderful entertainment value, but this one is simply fine writing. It's advertised for $1.00 on the B&N site today - the absolute book bargain of the year!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was truly mesmerized by Mosley's writing and completely connected to the characters. This was my first of Mosley's books, and I'm definitely looking forward to more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wolf. But i am a human. ^_^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scraches his head and goes to second res
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"My name is Comet" a dazzling she -wolf asked
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks back at Hunter then hurried to the second result
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ah i like duskpack
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aw...ok den...lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A completely white wolf pads in. Her blue eyes clouded with lack of eyesight.