Thursday, October 08, 2009

New in Paperback: The Right Mistake by Walter Mosley

The Right Mistake (Basic Civitas) begins:
“Yeah, brothah,” Billy Psalms said before he downed half a paper cup of Blue Angel red wine, “Freddy Bumpus made a big mistake when he married Vanessa Tremont.”

“Vanessa Tremont.” Martin Orr repeated the words lustfully, licking his lips and
moving his head to silent music.

The other men sitting around Socrates’ card table nodded and raised their paper cups in a toast.
Whether you love or hate Walter Mosley’s work (and these days it seems, there are more people who love it than those who do not) you have to admit: the man knows just how to plop you right into the middle of a scene. It’s one of the enjoyable things about just about any Mosley book. His characters are never wooden. They race across the page. They live, they breathe. And, sometimes, they die.

Fewer people die in The Right Mistake: The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow than in some other Mosley novels. That might even be why this book has not received the attention that’s been given to other recent releases by this author. It’s a thoughtful book, in many ways, focused as it is on a group that Socrates and his friend, Billy Psalms, put together and call the “Thinkers Club.” Made up of people from many walks, together they ponder life’s big questions and Socrates -- ever the philosopher -- encourages the Thinkers to look closely at issues of personal and social responsibility as they bring change to the world and themselves.

I know, right? Not the stuff of which bestsellers are made. And yet, The Right Mistake is thought-provoking fiction. Even, sometimes, compelling.

“In the face of gangs, drugs, poverty and racism,” Publishers Weekly wrote in a starred review, “Mosley poses the deceptively simple question -- ‘What can I do?’ -- and provides a powerful and moving answer.”

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