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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned Hardcover – November, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0393045390 ISBN-10: 0393045390 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company; 1st edition (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393045390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393045390
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this cycle of 14 bittersweet stories, Walter Mosley breaks out of the genre--if not the setting--of his bestselling Easy Rawlins detective novels. Only eight years after serving out a prison sentence for murder, Socrates Fortlow lives in a tiny, two-room Watts apartment, where he cooks on a hot plate, scavenges for bottles, drinks, and wrestles with his demons. Struggling to control a seemingly boundless rage--as well as the power of his massive "rock-breaking" hands--Socrates must find a way to live an honorable life as a black man on the margins of a white world, a task which takes every ounce of self-control he has.

Easy Rawlins fans might initially find themselves disappointed by the absence of a mystery to unravel. But it's a gripping inner drama that unfolds over the pages of these stories, as Socrates comes to grips with the chaos, poverty, and violence around him. He tries to get and keep a job delivering groceries; takes in a young street kid named Darryl, who has his own murder to hide; and helps drive out the neighborhood crack dealer. Throughout, Mosley captures the rhythms of Watts life in prose both musical and hard-edged, resulting in a haunting look at a life bounded by lust, violence, fear, and a ruthlessly unsentimental moral vision.

From Library Journal

Mosley introduces a new character, Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con trying to redeem his life, who "risks his safety to help a young boy struggling with his own conscience," and tries to provide a measure of mercy to an old friend dying of cancer.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
5 star
72%
4 star
20%
3 star
8%
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See all 87 customer reviews
Mosley has a great knack for chatacter development and paints a plot that makes it hard o put this story down.
K. Johnson
Socrates Fortlow is real, multidimensional, unpredictable but deeply moral, and his life in a very tough environment is gripping and believable.
blueotter
These aren't mysteries, but certainly should entertain Easy Rawlins fans as well as those unfamiliar with Walter Mosley's writing.
Neal Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By flying-monkey on October 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Trail Runner on January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Blackworm on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Bekken on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Desoer VINE VOICE on June 17, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I read this book, I would never have known that I could fall in love with a character who is a violent ex-convict. Socrates Fortlow, two-time murderer and one-time rapist (at least the crimes of which he has been convicted) has spent most of his life learning to survive behind bars.
However, eight years after his release from the Indiana State Penitentiary, and his relocation to South Central L.A., he has become much more like his namesake. This collection of interrelated short stories together form a remarkable tale of subtle, and perhaps even unconscious, redemption. Socrates becomes a mentor, best friend, and invaluable member of society. In addition, he learns that not all is black and white, whether it be with regard to morality, or as between the races.
The stories and their moral teachings are subtle, like well-crafted fables. I read this in one evening, unable to put down this wonderfully written book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By terry trueman on January 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like many other readers who have read and loved this book and its protagonist, Socrates Fortlow, I too was deeply moved by Walter Mosely's amazing book. Too few books "ring true" in the way that this one does. Too few books grapple with the most important issues, the biggest questions while, at the same time, weaving a story that the reader can't set down . . .Mosely does all of the above and much more. I am deeply appreciative of his wonderful contribution to the literature of our times. This book will outlive all of us . . . and it should!
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More About the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America's most celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless Jones series, including Fearless Jones, Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark; the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream; and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He lives in New York City.

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