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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

(Book #1 in the Socrates Fortlow Series)

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. New York Times bestselling author Walter Mosley introduces an "astonishing character" (Los Angeles Times Book Review) in this acclaimed collection of entwined tales. Meet Socrates Fortlow, a tough...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

True wisdom

This has to come close to being the best collection of short-stories written in English during the last twenty years. At their best the taut writing and uncanny ability to explode the confusion and emptiness at the heart of many people's lives recalls Raymond Carver, but where Carver is content to leave his ethics enigmatic, Mosley is righteous and fierce. This is not to say that the central character, Socrates Fortlow is a judgemental moralist. Far from it. This burly ex-con with his huge rock-crushing hands and terrible past, is searching for truth in a world where truth is no much unfashionable as crushed out of people's souls by injustice. He is a seeker not a saviour. The stories also form the link between Mosley's crime writing and his outstanding first SF novel, Blue Light, where issues of metaphysics are brought further into the foreground. Through the stories, Socrates acquires a kind of nobility that can only come from a totally honest struggle our own impulses as well as with the environment that surrounds us. There is a sense of place in 'Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned' that is very specific to 1980s Watts, but mythic and resonant and almost timeless at the same time. This only comes from genuine wisdom and understanding, qualities in which Mosley far outshines almost all contemporary authors. There are one or two weaker stories, notably one in which Socrates gets involved with the courts again, but this is a collection to come back to. And as with Raymond Carver, I felt compelled to stop for quite some time after each one as the subtle but powerful emotional impact percolated through my brain.

Beautifully written, great insight

I heard it was a book of short stories, but found it to read like a novel. Socrates is a deep and thoughtful character who will stay on your mind a long time. He tries to do the right thing in very adverse conditions. This book was an easy read, but deep and beautiful. I'd recommend to every reader I know.

A man of many seasons.

Meet Socrates Fortlow, a man who served years of prison time for the deaths and rape of a young couple, getting out of prison and trying to adjust to life on the outside as well as trying to come to terms with the life he led before and during his incarceration. During this fourteen short story run, the supporting cast are just as strong as they are flawed, much like Socrates himself. It was this character trait that kept me reading until the end. Socrates lived a hard life and he paid the price for it, however, throughout this book, his anger and resentment has made him not only a heroic figure, but a tragic one as well. Where else can you come across a man that will put together a plan to run a drug dealer out of his neighborhood, and the next story will have him standing in the face of one of his friends and tell him that he will stab him in the back to get with his wife and kids if he doesn't straighten up and fly right? It's these complex traits that make Mr. Fortlow such a facinating character, and this a facinating book.

gripping stories from master storyteller

After reading a couple of Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries, which I liked fairly well, I picked up this book of stories about the estimable Socrates Fortlowe. It is a wonderful collection, and also important, because it really questions that stubborn myth known as "the American dream", and it does so without putting down the people who still believe in that myth, against all possible odds. The Fortlowe stories are far richer than the Rawlins books, especially because the main character is so complicated, and because Mosley never lets him take the obvious way out of any situation. Highly recommended to anyone not afraid of books with attitude.

Profound, moving

I'd never heard of Walter Mosley and had not come to this book via the Easy Rawlins series. Rather, I saw it on a remainders table, bought it on impulse, gulped it down in two sittings. A book about black men and the ache to do something worthwhile against the odds of real life in South Central. Two days after I read the book I saw the movie adaptation with the inimitable Laurence Fishburne. A wonderful movie. But the book is better. Socrates Fortlow is a true original, and I loved him.
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