Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Long Fall

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Nobody on earth writes like Walter Mosley.

In Mosley's The Long Fall, it's not just that all the diverse strings come together. And it's not just that Leonid McGill is another of Mosley's brilliant heroes trapped in a nasty world. It is that the book itself is filled with Mosley's intelligent and gritty writing.

Mosley calls McGill a "bad-guy-turned-good." He is a man struggling to get out of a nasty world. That world is the underworld of modern-day New York.

At one point, Leonid McGill quotes his father--

"Money is a chain that the worker willingly wraps around his own neck. It chokes him and weighs him down until finally, one day, he would kill his own brother for just a few minutes' of relief."

McGill has long-since turned away from his father's Marxist beliefs, but still money is a trap for McGill. For money, he turns four men over to be killed. One is a man who has pulled himself up, who has walked away from the kind of life that leads to drug abuse and prison.

In working that through, McGill finds a family whose insanity destroys several people's worlds. He also finds himself trying to save his own son (not his blood son, but his son, nonetheless).

In the midst of everything, McGill faces a psychopathic killer and watches several others killed.

Mosley's books are worlds of contradiction. McGill uses Buddhist meditation. He is a violent man trying not to be so violent, but his world works against him. He is trying to save his own family as he works to reveal the secrets of another family, a truly violent and insane family.

As with all of Mosley's books, I struggled just to keep up with the characters and how they all come together. That's the brilliance of the book. In the end, they did come together in a way that knocked me back on my heels.

There were coincidences in the plot which bothered me. Sometimes I was at sea, even trying to remember who people were and what was happening. But in the end, it was a whole story, well worth reading.

For Mosley, there is a middle way. You won't find salvation either in the underworld or the upper world. You will find salvation in being a different kind of person than your world tries to make you. There is also terrible insanity, and some people in both worlds survive it.

This book is more than just worth reading. Like all of Walter Mosley's books, this book seems imperfect in perfect sort of way.

I'm glad Walter Mosley is back at his writing.


Corey Wilde said...

Good review, Joe. One more book to add to the list...

Joe Barone said...

It was a good one. He always keeps me swimming upstream until it all comes together at the end.