Book Review: “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned”.

I lugged the hot heap-o-junk down past the dormitory laundry room, past the workout room, and past the boiler room; I tossed that hot heap-o-junk into a random basement room, and dusted my hands-off…

That “hot heap-o-junk” was a stack of text books; those books were worth over $250 dollars collectively at the start of the school year, and now they were worthless. literally, worth less; I could sell the books back to the bookstore and probably get a little over ten dollars. It made more sense to just pass them down to underclassman, after all: “one man’s trash is the next man’s treasure.”…And in the midst of dumping my tower of text book trash- I found  my treasure!

I left $250 worth of books in that basement for a book that had a suggested retail price of 14 US dollars (16 Canadian). But it was worth so much more (Even in Canada). “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned” by Walter Mosley has enriched my life.

The book is set in Los Angeles during a period between the late 80’s and early 90’s. The book tells the story of Socrates Fortlow, an man who moved from Indianapolis,IN after serving a 26 year sentence for a double-homicide.

The self-righteous Fortlow is well on the path to spiritual cleanliness, but the path is laden with tests. His test is on trying to make a future out of being a Black man, and a convicted felon… But his biggest test is overcoming the flashbacks to the times where he wasn’t as self-righteous. And as the reader, you feel it.

You can feel the frustration that runs through the river-sized veins in the large hands of the massive man, as he struggles to matriculate through society. And with each situation, you, as the reader learn something about society. Its like being a fly on the wall in the world of menacing guy with a moral side.

Author, Walter Mosley, created Socrates Fortlow in the fashion of many big homies past. He feels like someone I know. That’s the power of Mosley’s voice; it comes through the interactions and the decisions of the characters, and he uses them as vessels to communicate a message much deeper than the drugs, guns, and sex the interactions are seemingly centered around.

Socrates Fortlow is a person I’ve seen before. I don’t know if I saw him at a soup kitchen I volunteered at when I was a teen. Maybe he is some sort of incarnation of the older kats I looked up to as a kid. Or maybe, it was the fact that a number of people reacted to the sight of me carrying the book like they had seen an old friend: “Oh, you reading about Socratese??? Do you know Easy Rawlins?”

This book has sent me on a quest to find out about this Easy Rawlins character, another one of Walter Mosley’s literary creations. This book has also sent me on a quest to find my own voice as a writer, and as a man. Talk about “one man’s trash, is the next man’s treasure.”, how many of those text books caused this reaction? Then again- how many of those text books taught about morality through the trails an ex-felon?

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