RARA-AVIS: Re: Walter Mosley

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 29 Aug 2008

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Patrick King <abrasax93@...> wrote:
    > I think I've read all of Mosley's books so I do enjoy his work, but
    he's too sentimental for me most of the time. His lead characters become too emotionally involved in The Cause of each story to make these books believable.<

    Mosley describes a different culture from Hillerman or Rendell. Well, Hillerman and Rendell also describe different cultures. People's reactions and emotional tendencies (or at least the way they express and act on those emotions) are strongly tied to their culture.

    <<The villains are bad with no explanation. Real evil people have more depth to them.>>

    Real evil? Do you really believe in good and evil as intrinsic characteristics of a person, of the fetus, as it were? I think we contain everything, love, cruelty, rationality, stupidity, greed, generosity, etc. Notice that Mosley is careful not to characterize anybody or call him evil. He just observes and describes. Himes did the same thing -- not that I'm comparing styles, they're very different writers.

    <<You don't run into this kind of thing with Tony Hillerman or Ruth Rendell, two authors who tell similar stories to those Mosley tells but are technically better writers.>>

    I don't think so, even if we could agree on what constitutes good technique, which isn't a given. The technique is tied to what story you're telling. Kafka had technique, Proust had technique, Faulkner had technique, but are their techniques even comparable?

    <<Hillerman's characters are self interested, Rendell's Inspector Wexford is doing the job he's paid to do. Their villains are greedy or mentally ill and both writers explore the reasons for these problems. Mosley's protagonists seem to always have a philanthropic objective that over-shadows all their other purposes. Mouse is easily Mosley's most interesting character. He's a sadist and a bully, but he's loyal and tenacious too. I love his line in DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS to the effect:
    > "If you didn't want him killed, Easy, why did you leave him with me?"

    I don't find Mouse all that interesting. Easy Rawlins, Mofass and several other characters interest me far more, just within the Rawlins series. The killer sidekick allows for shortcuts in solving certain problems, but sometimes Mosley gives Mouse mythical proportions -- as opposed to the rest of his cast, who tend to be regular folks.



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