Praise for Walter Mosley:
"A smart sly novel of ideas...Defying genre, Mosley’s latest novel is much like his eponymous hero: speculative, brilliant and wildly original."The National Book Review, on John Woman
“Mosley…seamlessly combines elements of dystopian thrillers, psychological crime, philosophical fiction, and straightforward melodrama. His rich, earthy prose burrows through complex abstract ideas and suspenseful plot twists with equal utility. And the cascade of syncopated revelations during the final sprint feel fully earned. Don’t expect certainty, though. As always, the final truth is up for grabs.” The AV Club on John Woman
"The versatile, justly celebrated creator of Easy Rawlins, Leonid McGill, and other iconic crime solvers raises the stakes with this tightly wound combination of psychological suspense and philosophic inquiry...Here he weaves elements of both the erotic and the speculative into a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga...Somehow, it makes sense that when Walter Mosley puts forth a novel of ideas, it arrives with the unexpected force of a left hook and the metallic gleam of a new firearm."Kirkus Reviews on John Woman
"Mosley’s superpower lies in his slantwise take on the world and his characters, of whom there are dozens, and every one is memorable...this fantastic, surprising, humane and somewhat perverse book is one of Mosley’s best." BookPage on John Woman
"An intellectual romp of a novel by the renowned mystery writer.”O Magazine on John Woman
"Mosley is at his commanding, comfort-zone-blasting best in this heady tale of a fugitive genius. His hero’s lectures are marvels of intellectual pyrotechnics and provocative inquiries; intense sex scenes raise questions about gender roles and intimacy; and John Woman’s increasingly drastic predicament and complex moral quandary precipitate arresting insights into race, freedom, power, and the stories we tell to try to make sense of the ceaseless torrent of human conflict and desire"Booklist on John Woman
“Offbeat and insightful… Fast paced but still full of provocative questions about society, the story grounds the wilder aspects of its plot by providing a fascinating cast of endearing characters. Mosley’s novel is one to savor, and an unpredictable, unabashedly strange good time.” Publisher's Weekly on John Woman
"A novel by Walter Mosley always prods a reader to think beyond the mundane...He’s a keen observer and a masterful writer...His latest novel, “John Woman,” is a little bit crime story and also a meditation on history, identity, power and sex...Is it OK for a relatively good person to hurt a relatively bad person? Mosley takes old questions like that and makes them fresh again."--The Seattle Times on John Woman
“When reviewing a book by Walter Mosley, it’s hard not to simply quote all the great lines. There are so many of them. You want to share the pleasures of Mosley’s jazz-inflected dialogue and the moody, descriptive passages reminiscent of Raymond Chandler at his best.”Washington Post, on Down the River Unto the Sea
“A daring, beautifully wrought story that incorporates elements of allegory, meditative reflection and the lilt of lyric tragedy. ”Los Angeles Times, on The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
“With Mosley, there’s always the surprise factora cutting image or a bracing line of dialogue.”New York Times Book Review, on And Sometimes I Wonder About You
“Mosley’s invigorating, staccato prose and understanding of racial, moral and social subtleties are in full force.”Seattle Times, on Known to Evil
“[Mosley has] revitalized two genres, the hard-boiled novel and the American behaviorist novel.”Roberto Bolaño
“Mosley is the Gogol of the African-American working classthe chronicler par excellence of the tragic and the absurd.”Vibe
“[Mosley] has a special talent for touching upon these sticky questions of evil and responsibility without getting stuck in them.”New Yorker
The prolific creator of Easy Rawlins provides guidance and tough-minded encouragement to writers at any stage of development.
In this follow-up to This Year You Write Your Novel (2007), Mosley (Down the River Unto the Sea, 2018, etc.) further demystifies fiction writing through language as taut and spare as the prose in his own novels. Where his first writing guide emphasized matters of diligence and discipline, here the author focuses on such storytelling basics as character, physical details, and points of view (he occasionally suggests that using a first-person narrator is harder than it seems). Mosley elaborates on the definition of plot he used in This Year, noting that "every story is a mystery of one sort or another." To illustrate this and other rules and assertions, the author unspools some narrative premises of his own invention. While some may seem too over-the-top to be anything more than parody, Mosley's purpose is to show readers the array of choices a novelist faces in setting up conflicts, not least of which is where and when a story might take place. He deploys similar story premises to show when and how to disclose the emotional lives of characters and how authorial improvisation can jar open fresh perspectives and a new set of narrative paths to follow. These random premises often feel like sneak peeks into Mosley's notebooks, but their intended effect is to make fledgling writers believe they can freely invent their own story ideas and carry them to fruition. The author is not only an inspiring instructor; he is also a bracingly open-minded one. He cites the use by some writers of outlines and biographies of major characters before getting to their novels, but he writes that he prefers meeting his characters "the way I encounter people in life—at a place and a situation where I have less knowledge than I'd like." Ultimately, he acknowledges that there is "no preordained pathway" to a writer's "ultimate destination." As with other manuals, this one doesn't shirk from emphasizing the difficulty of writing, but Mosley's spirited generosity helps make it less daunting.
A concise work that aspiring writers will find useful.
Multi-award-winner Mosley (This Year You Write Your Novel), best known for his "Easy Rawlins" mystery series, explores life with genre-defying mastery. With conversational bounce, this guide provides writers with methods and tips to find clarity and emotion. The foundation of a novel is its voice, writes Mosley, and most authors struggle with this aspect, often second-guessing themselves during early drafts. Mosley advises them to knuckle down, complete a version, thereby determining the narrative voice through discovery. This discipline requires considerable effort but is certain to immerse writers in line-by-line craft—learning, so to speak, by swimming. In today's media saturation too many aspiring writers focus on marketing and promotion instead of facing the blank page, he writes. Perhaps the most valuable features are examples from Mosley's own works covering theme, character development, physical description (people and settings), and that constant creative bugaboo known as plot. Finally, Mosley is firm—rightly so—on the necessity for "taking a breather," letting the completed draft cool off before final editing. VERDICT A no-nonsense guide worthy of shelf space with Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and E.M. Forster's timeless Aspects of the Novel.—William Grabowski, McMechen, WV