RARA-AVIS: Walter Moseley

From: Michael Jeter (michael.damian.jeter@gmail.com)
Date: 28 Aug 2008

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    I want to get things rolling as best I can. You may have heard that doown here in New Orleans, we have a visitor named Gustave we expect Tuesday, and we may have to evacuate. What follows are some quick thoughts centered around the Easy Rawlins character. Its been a while since I have read the material

    Walter Moseley brings race and racism to the table for consideration not only as the author himself, but his main characters are African American. The Rawlins stories take place in late '40's early '50's Los Angeles in the Compton area. In ten years time, the neighborhood will erupt, but Moseley writes aboout the period before Compton meant gangbangers, when it was an upwardly mobile working class Black community.

    Signficantly, this African American community developed mostly from
     migrants seeking a better life who wanted a part of the American Dream. In narration, Easy describes himself not as an investigator, but as a person who finds things -- and people -- for others. He supports himself as a landscaper/maintenance man now working for the School Board. Easy takes great pride in home ownership, with Mosely showing him grdening the way Spenser cooks. He also takes quite naturally to the parental role thrust upon him by the presence of Jesus and Feather. The stories concern a man trying to buy into an American Dream not
     quite sure that it wants him, and the twists that dream can take in segregated Los Angeles. Like James Elllrooy, a sense of history helps the reader, though Elroy commented, when an interviewer compared him to Moseley, "I write aboout the cops who beat up Easy Rawllins."

    I've got papers to grade and a class to prepare for. Hope something I've written proves helpful, and I will join in when I can.

    Michael Jeter

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