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Paperback The Right Mistake : The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow Book

ISBN: 0465018521

ISBN13: 9780465018529

The Right Mistake : The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow

(Book #3 in the Socrates Fortlow Series)

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Book Overview

Living in south central L.A., Socrates Fortlow is a sixty-year-old ex-convict still strong enough to kill men with his bare hands. Filled with profound guilt about his own crimes and disheartened by the chaos of the streets, Socrates calls together local people of all races and social stations and begins to conduct a Thinkers' Club, where all can discuss life's unanswerable questions. Infiltrated by undercover cops and threatened by strain from within,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

How To Survive?

This book felt so real I wanted to join the Thursday Thinkers Meeting. Born with sin, or is it dysfunctional family? Perhaps both, no matter come to the meeting and speak your mind. The main character is Socrates Fortlow, a paroled murderer, and a survivor of a atrocious childhood. There is no messing with Socrates; raw with honesty, he knows we are all cursed. He knows his loneliness is no way out. His solution is to meet and talk. He has come to this conclusion after being treated so coldly that his anger has overwhelmed his few moments of love. Socrates redemption can not be bought, or achieved alone. His heart must be melted by reaching out to his community and by embracing the new love in his life. Confrontation between righteous anger and paranoid authorities keep the action moving. But do not overlook Mosley's explosions of provoking thoughts. An unusual book that I loved to the last page.

Keeping It Simple

Socrates Fortlow is one of my favorite literary characters. When I'm frequently mired in skirmishs with government bureaucrats on behalf of my son, who is disabled, I remind myself that we are "always outnumbered, always outgunned" so what. Some days progress is measured in small increments. What a treat to find a new Socrates Fortlow adventure. Mosley turns a fine phrase, in reference to the Thursday Thinkers dinners: "We are here because the world . . . the whole damn world is messed up," Socrates said simply and to the point. "An' all we do every day is shut our eyes hopin' that it'll get bettah wile we ain't lookin." When you've grown up in Los Angeles, in the mid century, you remember the LAPD at its "finest" -- and Mosley has not forgotten these times either. It's all there: profiling, infiltration/spying, etc. Truth becomes the only defense when you're surrounded by lies. Perhaps some of the characters, the more "normal" lawyers or social worker or singer are a little one dimensional, and to the average reader they are perhaps more easily understood. Socrates Fortlow has paid a terrible price for his truth and freedom. Now he finds love with Luna, and companionship and philosophical discussions while breaking bread with friends and strangers. This book is a good read: thought provoking, presenting possible solutions (only if we talk with each other) and lots of comic relief with the highly original gambler and cook, Billy Psalms. Utopian, perhaps, but if you don't imagine it's possible, where do you find hope? Or truth for that matter?

Walter Mosley's done it again!

Couldn't put it down and was very sad when it ended. As with any good book you want it to go on forever but that simply doesn't happen. Walter Mosley please write faster! Great read!

Fortlow inspires not just his contemporaries but his reader as well

Many would argue that philosophy has gone south since the Greeks. As subsequent thinkers became muddled with questions of categorical imperatives, moral relativisms and systematized ethics, they lost the almost childlike simplicity of the discipline's original questions: What is good? How can I act right? More importantly, in a discourse of prosaic academic papers and windbag treatises, the act of gathering strangers around a table to discuss issues face to face has been deemed quaint --- so much for Socratic ideals. Mosley's reincarnation of the philosopher is surprisingly faithful to the original: he is old, fat, poor, wise and highly aware of his limitations. He is put on trial for his ideas and defends himself superbly. Granted, he lives. And granted, he has raped and murdered women. Most damningly, he lacks most of Socrates's characteristic arrogance. But these are things we can let slide, especially since Mosley is out to create a new character, not a second coming. As a modern-day street-wise philosopher, Socrates Fortlow, ex-con and all, is a fictional and philosophical hero well worth rallying around, and his story of engaging others into questioning right action speaks to the very soul of what philosophy is about. Newly out of prison, Fortlow opens the Big Nickel, an old house in the LA ghetto that opens its doors on a weekly basis to everyone interested in discussing moral problems of the day (the free gumbo also helps). The Thinkers, as they come to be known, are mostly from the bad parts of town, but that doesn't stop them from jumping right in to high-stakes moral debates about violence and compassion for other men, all under the common goal of bettering themselves. As the Big Nickel grows in renown, it sparks public interest in the goal of self-betterment, as well as attracts police spies suspicious of potentially seditious activity. Fortlow opens the Nickel as a site for peace talks between gang leaders; predictably enough, the bulk of people, too ignorant to conceive of such a hopeful establishment, just assume it's another crime den. While Fortlow is eventually put on trial for suspected murder, it's his honest moral activities that seem to be on trial. Mosley deftly brings Fortlow to life as a modern man, a murderer with unknowable guilt and a Socratic figurehead. He is equal parts wise and humble, and while he's certainly inspirational as Socrates, he's most powerful as a troubled man looking for any salvation left to him. While Mosley goes a little overboard in referencing Fortlow's ubiquitous shame for his crimes, there's an honesty in the character that's hard not to admire. The novel's other characters are nowhere near as well drawn, but considering the book's subtitle, "The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow," they aren't expected to be. THE RIGHT MISTAKE is half-novel, half-philosophical dialogue in the style of Plato. But shockingly, it works. Mosley's tale is completely unpretentious, single-h

Does Mosley ever have a bad day...?

What if Plato was a pimp? What if Aristotle was a gang-banger? What if Nietzsche was a drug dealer? Would their philosophy be the same if they were these things on the streets of New York? Those were some of the questions I came up with as I was reading this book. Socrates is an ex-con (2 murders & 1 rape that we know of) who starts a thinking group to debate and discuss some of the issues directly relating with their community. He assembles leaders and followers from around the community to his house that he... um... creatively leased from someone to hold the meetings. The guest list includes drug dealers, deacons, decent women, hookers, business owners, bums, Asians, Whites, Blacks, gay, straight, quiet, loud, lawyers and police. With this unique mix of people you know that trouble was just one comment away. One of the most interesting discussions was "who or what makes a REAL Black man"? Socrates deals with life as it comes and is surprisingly astute for someone who spent 27 years in prison. Women love bad boys and he's about as bad as they come. This isn't Mr. Mosley's first visit with Socrates but it was MY first book about him. Now I'm curious to see if Socrates was always this "calm" and introspective or did prison and an extremely hard life create this persona. I know I sound like a broken record... but this man's mastery of the craft is second to none! I only wish others knew what I know about Walter Mosley. Those who know him read and love him, but I can't help but think that his talent is simmering below the surface like lava for those who don't know and one day... sometime soon... it's going to erupt like Mount St. Mosley.
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