Wednesday, August 6, 2014



I've mentioned before that Walter Mosley is probably one of the most versatile authors and consistently puts out solid work in different genres. At the point when this book was released, Mosley was mostly known for his great crime writing and was carving out a cult niche with his thoughtful sci-fi novels. With this book, he did what many would never expect and delved into erotic fiction.

Mild-mannered New York City translator Cordell Carmel is living a good life with his long-term girlfriend Joelle. Until one day he walks into Joelle's apartment and catches her majorly getting her freak on with wanna-be jazz musician John Fry. Without being noticed by them, Cordell walks out, not knowing what to feel. Haunted by the look of something more than ecstasy on Joelle's face, and by the image of Johnny Fry's bright red condom, Cordell decides to keep it to himself, beginning an intense journey of sexual transformation and awakening.

Although this book is definitely not for the prudish, what sets it apart from other erotic stories I've seen is the urgency and emotion in the storytelling and the fact that Mosley creates an awesome character in Cordell, one of the best characters in his work. What struck me the most about Cordell (and what many men can relate to, even though they might not admit it), was his insecurities after witnessing his wife's infidelity, as well as his conflicting feelings about the situation. After catching them, he's not just angry, but he's also confused and horrified to discover that witnessing it has also given him a hard-on, and he's not sure why. He becomes obsessed with a bizarre porno movie about a submissive, cuckolded man that he begins identifies with. There's something so honest about his behavior that touched me deeply. This sexual honesty is something that I almost never see in men, especially those in the black community.

The book is sort of an existential journey for Cordell to heal his sexual insecurity. It is yet another book that I've read this year that reminds me of the criminally under-appreciated movie Eyes Wide Shut (my favorite of Kubrick's). There is lots of hot sex for those interested in that, but much of it is covered with an aura of sadness and melancholy. The book falls apart almost completely in the last third, and it was a bit unbelievable that after Cordell catches Joelle cheating, every woman in the book suddenly reveal themselves to be heavy freaks and try to have sex with him. This caused me to lower it's score a bit, but the Cordell character and the honest and frank look at sexual identity makes this a novel that stuck with me for a while.

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