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FEAR ITSELF by Walter Mosley
9.19.03
Arts and Culture:
Walter Mosley
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Walter Mosley is the author of seventeen critically acclaimed books and his work has been translated into twenty-one languages. His popular mysteries featuring World War II veteran Easy Rawlins began with DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS in 1990. Mosley's new mystery series centers on second-hand bookseller Paris Minton and his friend Fearless Jones. The second in this series, FEAR ITSELF has just been published.

The independent Black Classic Press located in Baltimore, Maryland published the prequel to the Rawlins' series, GONE FISHIN' in January 1997. Mosley decided to give a novel to a small black publishing house, because he felt it was important "to create a model that other writers, black or not, can look at to see that it's possible to publish a book successfully outside mainstream publishing in New York." He teamed up again with Black Classic Press publisher W. Paul Coates in February 2003 to publish WHAT NEXT, part political essay, part handbook for community action that examines the singular kinds of contributions and patterns of belief and action African Americans can add to any approach towards world peace.

Mosley has also written literary fiction, science fiction and nonfiction. Two movies have been made from his work, DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS and ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED. His short fiction has been published in a wide array of publications including THE NEW YORKER, GQ, ESQUIRE, USA WEEKEND, LOS ANGELES TIMES MAGAZINE and SAVOY. His nonfiction has been published in THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, THE NATION and he was an editor and contributor to the book BLACK GENIUS. He is the guest editor for The BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF 2003.

He has won numerous awards including the Anisfield Wolf Award, an honor given to works that increase the appreciation and understanding of race in America. In 2002, he won a Grammy award for his liner notes accompanying "Richard Pryor…And It's Deep Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992)". He was a finalist for the NAACP Award in Fiction and won the 1996 Black Caucus of the American Library Association's Literary Award (for RL'S DREAM.) He was an O'Henry Award winner in 1996 (for a Socrates Fortlow story.)

Mosley created with the City University of New York (CUNY) a new publishing degree program aimed at young urban residents. It is the only such program in the country. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.



DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS

1990

Mosley began to document the life and adventures of African American WWII veteran and accidental detective Easy Rawlins in this 1990 novel. His sales took a huge leap when in 1992 then President Clinton said that Mosely's Rawlins books were among his favorites.

Here Mosley reflects on the president as a fan: "Later on when I talked to him and he talked to me about how he read them and why he read him, I was very excited. Because...he explained to me that I talk about that Diaspora. I talked about the black people after World War II who migrated to California. He was talking to me, he says, 'I see those same people who left Arkansas after the war. And I find them all over the country.' And that was really nice that we had a connection... He read it for the reason I would like him to read it."

A RED DEATH

1991

In his second appearance, in order to avoid a prison sentence for a trumped-up tax evasion charge, Easy Rawlins agrees to infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on alleged communist organizer Chaim Wenzler.
WHITE BUTTERFLY

1992

When a white co-ed is murdered in the same way that a series of black women were murdered recently, L.A. police coerce detective Easy Rawlins to become involved in the case.

— Reader Reviews
"Mosley gives us a male character who isn't afraid to cry and when he gets angry he doesn't get violent but does get even."

"Walter Mosley weaves a tapestry of pain and heartache and human frailty into White Butterfly."

BLACK BETTY

1994

Detective Easy Rawlins returns in a mystery set in 1961 Los Angeles as Easy accepts a job searching for a beautiful woman nicknamed "Black Betty," who works as a housekeeper in Beverly Hills.
A LITTLE YELLOW DOG

1995

It's now November, 1963 and Easy Rawlins is settled into a steady gig as a school custodian. But things soon become very, very complicated.

Read an excerpt from A LITTLE YELLOW DOG.

RL'S DREAM

1995

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. Kiki Waters 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.

"RL's Dream is a meditation on the meaning of the blues and of its continued place in the darker corners of modern America. If the blues can be put down onto paper then this is it. Robert Johnson played them like no other, Walter Mosley writes them. " — THE RICHMOND REVIEW.

GONE FISHIN'

1996

Mosley heads back in time to give readers a coming-of-age story about Easy Rawlins' and Raymond "Mouse" Alexander.

Read an excerpt of GONE FISHIN'.

ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED

1997

Mosley shifts gears and moves in time to contemporary Los Angeles. This time his protagonist is Socrates Fortlow, a man just released from a 27-year prison sentence for murder and rape.

Read an excerpt from ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED, ALWAYS OUTGUNNED.

BLUE LIGHT

1998

Walter Mosley moves into the realm of science fiction with a story of a world in which human potential, for a select few, is suddenly, amazingly fulfilled.

"I never look at science fiction as being predictive. The best thing that science fiction can do is to break you out of ruts in the way you see the world and to shatter one's illusions about progress. It should not make people feel cosy but it make people question their good fortune about being born at any one moment in time."--Walter Mosley on science fiction

Read an excerpt of BLUE LIGHT.

WALKIN' THE DOG

1999

Walter Mosley returns to present-day Los Angeles in the second book relating the adventures of ex-convict Socrates Fortlow. The book's structure is innovative as in each chapter, Socrates challenges a different conundrum of modern life.

Read an excerpt of WALKIN' THE DOG.

THE GREATEST

2000

Walter Mosley enters the world of virtual fiction with a download-only take of female boxer Fera Jones, the product of SepFem-G, the outlawed genetics program that came out of the feminist studies program at Smith College.
WHISPERS IN THE DARK

2000

Mosley's second title in downloadable fiction tells the story of two different boys living in the distant future. At an age when most babies are cooing "Mama," Ptolemy Bent "Popo" was speaking in complete sentences. He was reading college textbooks when he was still too young for nursery school. Popo may just be the smartest human being on Earth. Chill Bent is a two-time loser with a hair-trigger temper.
WORKIN' ON THE CHAIN GANG: SHAKING OFF THE DEAD HAND OF HISTORY

2000

"Slavery was outlawed in this country more than a century ago, but Americans still wear chains. Each one of us, black and white alike, is shackled by a system that values money over humanity, power over truth, conformity over creativity. Race has undeniably made the problem worse, but race is not the root of the problem. Indeed, as black novelist and activist Walter Mosley brilliantly argues in this impassioned call to arms, though the chains might be more recognizable in the lives of blacks, the same chains restrain us all. Only when we understand this truth can we begin—black and white together—to cast off the shackles." — Book jacket
FEARLESS JONES

2001

Walter Mosley offers two new detective/heroes, used bookstore owner Paris Minton and army veteran Fearless Jones. The story takes place in 1950s Watts, Los Angeles.

Read an excerpt of FEARLESS JONES

FUTURELAND: NINE STORIES OF AN IMMINENT WORLD

2001

Life in America a generation from now isn't much different from today: The drugs are better, the daily grind is worse. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened to a chasm. You can store the world's legal knowledge on a chip in your little finger, while the Supreme Court has decreed that constitutional rights don't apply to any individual who challenges the system. Justice is swiftly delivered by automated courts, so the prison industry is booming. And while the media declare racism is dead, word on the street is that even in a colorless society, it's a crime to be black." — Book jacket

Read an excerpt of FUTURELAND.

BAD BOY BRAWLY BROWN

2002

Easy Rawlins returns after a hiatus of six years. This time he's involved with a L.A. political organization and he helps and close friend's son.

Read an excerpt of BAD BOY BRAWLY BROWN.

FEAR ITSELF

2003

Mosley's second in this series set in the Watts section of Los Angeles follows Fearless Jones and Paris Minton on a trail of deceit and murder and money.

"Like the debut of the series, FEARLESS JONES, the new novel is both a first-rate crime story and a history of racism in the place and time of its setting. "Mosley does it all with a deftness that masks the history lesson with a page-turning plot driven by his trademark clear, concise prose that slides down as easily as a cold beer at a July ballgame." "FEAR ITSELF Showcases Mosley at his best," THE DENVER POST, July 27, 2003

Read an excerpt of FEAR ITSELF.

SIX EASY PIECES: EASY RAWLINS STORIES

2003

Seven new stories featuring Mosley's Easy Rawlins.

"The best thing about this book is the prose. The author has a fantastic style. This a magical book that addresses racism, betrayal, and dignity. It keeps you glued to your seat reading well into the night as you follow the protagonist, Easy Rawlins, as he discovers himself after a midlife crisis. Mosley has done it again!" — Fan Review

Read an excerpt of SIX EASY PIECES.

WHAT NEXT: AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN INITIATIVE TOWARD WORLD PEACE

2003

Mosley's reflection on September 11 is getting a lot of press in Great Britain these days. GUARDIAN writer Maya Jaggi referred to Mosley as the "Socrates of the streets." A high compliment paid to his view of the writer as someone who stimulates dialogue, rather than an unapproachable expert. Jaggi also noted in her September 6, 2003, article, that while the LOS ANGELES TIMES had "commended Mosley for 'boldly advocating his position in a time when dissent can be construed as unpatriotic', neither the NEW YORK TIMES nor the WASHINGTON POST reviewed the book. "

Mosley chose Black Classic Press as the publisher for this work.

"Time for a New Black Power Movement," THE GUARDIAN

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