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of books by Walter Mosley
"Fear Itself," July 2003
"Little Scarlet," July 2004
"Cinnamon Kiss," October 2005
"Fortunate Son," May 2006
"Fear of the Dark," September 2006
"Blonde Faith," October 2007
"All I Did Was Shoot My Man," January 2013
in the often mean streets of Los Angeles
It is happiness itself that Walter Mosley has resurrected his longtime hero, Easy Rawlins, in "Little Green."
We haven't seen Easy since "Blonde Faith" in 2007, when he went sailing off a cliff in his car.
At that time, Mosley told me Rawlins was of an era, and he's ''done his thing.'' The new era in the Rawlins timeline ''Vietnam, hippies, the maturation of the civil rights movement,'' as Mosley put it, would just have to get along without Rawlins' perception of it.
Unless, I suggested, a new idea for Rawlins occurred to Mosley at some point.
''I'm just not feeling it,'' Mosley said, at the time.
But that new idea occurred to Mosley, and in "Little Green," Easy wakes up, gradually, in an unfamiliar bed. He's been mostly asleep, nourished by an I.V., for two months.
His friend Lynne told him the police didn't find his body, and thought he'd washed away in the tide. But the "tall black witch-woman," Mama Jo, had grabbed Easy's friend, Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, and told him, "Your friend is not dead, Raymond. While you're here, feelin' sorry for yourself he's out there in pain, near death. Go back to where that accident happened and look for him. Look close."
And Raymond, after two hours of searching, finds Easy and saves him.
After two months of mostly being passed out and dreaming -- thinking -- he was dead, once he finally wakes, he is weak, but Mouse already has a job for him.
A lady in Easy's neighborhood is missing her oldest son, Evander, who is 19 or 20. "He should be a man but he's immature for his age," says Mouse. "You know that's a bad combination."
So, right away, Easy has a job, the kind of thing he lives for. But of course, it's complicated, including by the fact the mother of the missing child/man Evander, who is known as Little Green, would gladly kill Mouse, if she could.
And, as he begins looking around, still weak, he leans against a lamppost. A couple of white cops start to roust him. But ... a black mechanic comes out and asks the cops why they are doing that. The word "nigger" is used by a cop. Then a white man comes out and asks "What did you call my mechanic?" And then another man comes to the discussion in support of Easy. And then the cops get called away, and the incident ends.
"I had the definite feeling that while I was dead," Easy tells us, "the world had changed somewhat."
He's still weak, so goes to Mama Jo, in Compton, for some of her backwoods alchemy.
"It's a good thing that you run up off'a that cliff. A good thing. Because when you hit the bottom there is only one place left for you to go. You know that, don't ya?"
"I don't know a goddamned thing, Jo," I said, unable to keep my anger in check. "Not a fuckin' thing."
"You know you tried to kill yourself and that Death threw you back. He held you in his hand a minute and then said, 'Maybe.'"
I laughed deeply in spite of the pains in my chest and back. The idea of the Absolute looking at life and tossing it aside sounded so right that it was almost unbearable.
She gives him a small crate full of a medicine she calls "Gator's Blood."
"That there is some powerful juju," she says, warning him to follow her directions about how to use it.
And it powers Easy well enough to get up to Sunset Strip in search of Little Green, where he finds a world very different from what he'd known in South Central just the two month before. He finds a world of hippies, racial integration and the free flow of drugs and sex.
"The white girl in white led me down three blocks of Sunset. There we moved should to shoulder with unwashed humanity from every state and city in the country. It was a profound experience for a black man like me to walk along with so many white people and them not having any kind of revulsion, fear, or disgust. That night, on Sunset Boulevard, the playing field was even, but that hardly mattered, because there was no competition."
But, no worry. Conflict occurs. Where there are drugs, in America's time of drug prohibition, there is plenty of money and violence to be found, and Easy finds that Little Green has fallen into some kind of real danger among some kind of drug thugs, and before too long, Easy and everyone he knows and loves is in a world of trouble.
Something Easy says, after meeting Little Green: "I liked Evander because he was smart enough to make sense out of the abstractions of language. Many young people hear you say the pot is hot but they still have to touch it."
It's good to have Easy Rawlins' back, chronicling the 1960s in L.A.
A good read, this.