Life Out of Context

I was an early inductee into the Walter Mosley mojo (Easy Rawlins is one of the best characters introduced onto the American literature scene - ever), but I have to confess that I started to doubt when Mosley transitioned from the gritty, street tales that he has a real ear for into realms as far a field as science fiction. That is a point more on who I am than who Mosley is as a man (he contains multitudes) and as an author; I am very much a fan of a structure – the right thing in the right place. Heck, it even relates back to my selection of an undergraduate major (electrical engineering) and the focus (digital logic) I choose (analog was so messy - too voodoo-y for my ordered world). So the very concept of an author of detective novels composing sci-fi tales left my brain in an endless "does not compute", If-Then-Else loop.

And then a book club I was in selected a book from Mosley, "Life Out of Context". Wow. In this book, Mosley weaves together all of the disparate threads that have always lurked within the sub-context, the underbelly if you will, of his fiction. In this tome it is revealed as the sense of what it means to be a citizen of the world's most powerful nation – but defined by others to be a second-class citizen – based on personal attributes that were selected for you at birth. And if that does not make sense – good, because a reality like that is not supposed to make sense, can never make sense.

The book opens with Mosley in the company of giants and reads almost like a continuous stream-of-consciousness report of his experiences and thoughts as his life winds amongst 20th century Afrikan /Afrikan-American royalty. Throughout it all, Mosley describes the mundane tasks of his life and his writing in such detail that it is as though he has invited us to look over his shoulder as he draws from that stream the elements of the book. Life Out of Context is then a book that is not so much read as it is experienced, a book through which we experience Mosley’s thoughts contemporaneously with him – which means his conclusions are not so much told to us – instead we reach them together.

I will not report those conclusions here, rather I will urge you to buy the book or pick one up from your local library – or read it one afternoon at your favorite book store (it is not too long); do what you must, but read this book.

I give it 5 Stars.

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