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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Socrates Fortlow #1)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  2,497 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Three decades ago, the young Socrates had, in a burst of drunken rage, murdered a man and a woman with his huge "rock-breaking hands." Twenty-seven years of hard time in an Indiana prison followed. Now Socrates lives in a cramped two-room apartment in an abandoned building in Watts, scavenging bottles and delivering groceries for a supermarket. In each of the linked storie ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1997 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1997)
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So close to being a 5 star read, Mosley has scaled new heights in my estimation with this wonderful series of vignettes featuring Socartes Fortlow

Read on the plane from London to Copenhagen

It might even get upgraded to 5 stars after some more time but this took me by complete surprise after finding it for a measly 50 pence in a Colchester charity shop.

Technically these are short stories featuring the same character but the way that they put together in this volume it works as something similar t
I read this book over 10 years ago and it still stands out in my mind. Socrates Fortlow is a wonderfully complex and humane character. I still remember vividly his experience trying to get a job shortly after his release from prison. Mosley writes very convincingly about the life and struggles of an ex-con and the problems of urban America. This is one of my favorite books. One of these days I'll read it again so I can write a proper review.
Socrates Fortlow has been out of prison for eight years after having spent the previous twenty seven incarcerated for the murder of two people and rape of one of them. This book chronicles some of his experiences in Los Angeles, mainly Watts, effectively portraying the culture and the character of Socrates and his interlocutors. I was impressed with the humanity evident in the protagonist's (dare I say hero?) actions and thoughts, particularly his rationality. He has developed an understanding o ...more
An ex-con in late middle age lives each day as an opportunity for redemption. Recently released from prison after a 27-year prison sentence for rape and murder, Socrates Fortlow has a hardscrabble life in South Central L.A. where violence is part of the everyday and intimidation is currency. Yet in spite of his circumstances and barebones existence, he has an admirable focus on self-awareness. It’s hard not to like this character and you suspect he is not as evil as he believes himself to be. Mo ...more
I'm not a big fan of short story collections, but Walter Mosley's episodic look at a hard-luck Socrates trying to stay straight in the ghettos of Los Angeles has unexpected wisdom and perfect pitch for the urban environment in which these chapters are set. Socrates is a believable character, and an ex-convict more stoic than bitter. He is, if I may say so, a community activist, although he does not think of himself as such (and is all the more authentic for that lack of vanity). He knows his own ...more
This is possibly my favorite book of all time. The character Socrates Fortlow is an incredibly intriguing character. There's so much depth, complexity and realism to him. He is a recently paroled convicted murderer living in the slums of LA trying to retain his humanity and manhood despite being constantly surrounded by violence, poverty, and humiliation. Can't say enough about this book. It was adapted (really well) to a film with Laurence Fishburne. Definitely should check that out too.
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-c
The book is a collection of vignettes in the life of Socrates Fortnow a recently released convict from Indiana who has made his home in L.A. at about the time of the last L.A. riots/rebellion. Each chapter is a carefully draw morality play on what it means to be a black MAN in America where you are always outnumbered, always outgunned. The book is obviously cribbed together from individual short stories most if not all of which have appeared as short stories elsewhere. Where this might detract f ...more
Socrates Fortlow, released from prison after 27 years for murder, tries to live with honor in Watts, without giving in to his murderous rage. This is a collection of stories that originally appeared elsewhere, but interwoven with new material. The immensely strong, guilt-ridden Socrates helps rid the neighborhood of a killer, takes in a young boy, convinces a man to stay with his wife, and insists on his rights when dealing with authority like the grocery store where he applies for a job.

It’s an
This is why I love reading. You open a book, start reading, and are whisked off to adventure. This is not a crime novel such as the author's Easy Rawlins Mysteries. Instead this book is an extraordinary character study of an uneducated black man, ex-convict Socrates Fortlow, who has spent 27 years in prison for rape and murder. Upon release from an Indiana prison he travels to Los Angeles and begins his new life in a rough section of town. Along the way, the reader is witness to his inner strugg ...more
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned was one of the favorite books thats I've read this year besides The Shining Mark. I like this book becuase it was a capturing book. Even though I read it every other day I didnt put it down until I was tired becuase it was intresting. I figured out that the main character of this book is Socrates becuase the story revolves mostly around him, and also about his life and the struggles he is facing. I likes the way the author put many themes in the book along wi ...more
David Gustafson
Writing encapsulates experience and at it's best, wisdom. Men with even a modicum of violence in them (which is most people let alone most men) can benefit from being reminded of it's costs. Every blow you throw in life is like a shovel full of dirt dug from the bottom and thrown out over the top of your own personal pit of despair. Men, especially young men can learn from the burden that Mosley's protagonist bears every day of his life. What do you do when you are at the bottom of a hole? Stop ...more
I can't believe I forgot to add and review this book for so long on Goodreads. This is one of the few books I have read twice. One of the books that raised my passion for reading again. It was a very interesting book, with interesting characters, an interesting story, and an interesting context. Watts from talking to friends is a rough place, but has character. Mosley represents this well.
Good wild west title, and I suppose Watts in LA, Mosley's stomping grounds, is western, lawless and desperate enough. His hero in this story collection seems to intend a sort of frontier justice, and as an ex-con emerging from nearly 30 years in a federal pen for a double homicide sentence, he certainly is an outlaw, outcast figure. His given name, Socrates, stresses his philosophical inclinations, in ironic spite of his social status and lack of education or polish, but his friends' nickname fo ...more
I so admired the moral compass of Socrates Fortlow! He'd be the first to admit that he's not perfect; he spends most days regretting the actions that put him in prison. His code of "right" and "wrong" may not always be the same as mine, but in his world he's a beacon of hope.
Mark Cooper
[Audio] Story of a black man released from a long stint in prison and his reflections on life and how hard it is to come back to society. Some interesting messages about personal responsibility that I didn't expect to find given the story line.
Breathtaking. I read this in one afternoon, hardly wanting to put it down. The character of Socrates Fortlow came alive for me in ways very few fictional writers have been able to do in recent times.
It was hard for me to make the switch from the Easy Rawlings books to this collection. But I did it. I love this book, but I'll be honest I like Easy Rawlings better.
The best book I've read in about 3 years (since Jonathan Coe's "Rotter's Club"). Great characters, lyrical prose. I can't wait to read the follow-up.
Lee Battersby
Not so much a novel as a series of linked short stories. The progression of former prisoner Socrates Fortlow from social outcast to moral compass of his tiny, impoverished community in the heart of LA is told in a series of short morality plays, each one building on what came before to give a compelling insight into the difficulties faced by the marginalised communities on the fringes of urban America and the redemptive power of a man who regrets the badness in his life. Some of Mosley's best wr ...more
Saz Gee
Mosley is one of those authors I can always rely on. Amazing stories, characters, plots, descriptions. He writes so well about redemption and people's ability to change. The only criticism I can make is his laziness when it comes to women, who only ever exist as props to the male action.

Anyway I hadn't come across the Socrates character before, but I really liked him. Not usually a fan of short stories, especially as these are collected from different publications, but they work so well as one s
This was my first time reading a Walter Mosley novel. I had been recommended to read his books for quite some time, but I never got around to it until now.

I ended up choosing to read this book out of my dusty box book collection to see what I was missing... and sadly enough, I felt that I didn't miss much.

This book is about an ex-convict, Socrates Fortlow, and how he lives his life post-incarceration. Socrates is trying to live a low-key life, while staying under the radar of the police and ot
John Kim
Walter Mosley is well known for his private detective series starring Easy Rawlins, but this is a different series that stars an ex-convict named Socrates Fortlow who went to prison for murder. He isn't out to try to change the world, but to live his life in a way that Socrates hopes will put him on a path to redemption.

Mr. Mosley puts superb characterization and voice into Socrates and you feel his inner anguish and conflict as he struggles and lives his post prison life. The sins of his past n
When i first started reading the author did not have my attention, but as i kept reading it soon became hard for me to put the book down. i liked this book because it shows you that anyone can change, no matter how bad their situation was. The main character was in jail for more than 10yrs and he got out and changed his life and attiude around.I felt like he regret killing his friends everytime he would think about or be reminded of what happen because he would have bad dreams and if you dont ca ...more
In Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (1998), het eerste deel van een nieuwe serie, voert Mosley na Easy Rawlins een nieuw sterk hoofdpersonage ten tonele: Socrates Fortlow, een achtenvijftigejarige zwarte die zevenentwintig jaar opgesloten zat voor dubbele moord en verkrachting en nu probeert te overleven in een chaotische maatschappij die intussen afscheid heeft genomen van de zekere stabilititeit die er voor zijn opsluiting nog heerste. Fortlow is een man van principes die ondanks een enorm ...more
Jeff Scott
I really enjoyed these short stories. They center around Socrates Fortlow (named Socrates because his mother thought it would make him smart), a convicted murderer now released from prison after 27 years. He lives in Los Angeles in a poor black neighborhood. He provides guidance for those who seek it from him. It seems most people seek him out as a tough to help them, but his words are wise and violence is never an option for the neighborhood's problems.

"you stood up for yourself Darell", Socrat
Socrates is out of prison after 27 years. He is trying to find his way to being a good man. Socrates finds that because he is black and a convict his job options are limited. He finally forces a grocery store to give him a job where he does a good job. He helps a young boy named Darryl navigate the streets of Watts. I love Mosley's writing. He gives the reader insight into another world. This is the first book in a series about Socrates and his friends.
Mary Hawley
This collection of connected short stories introduces Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con who is nearly overwhelmed by the violent forces within him and within society. The characters' lives are as bleak as those in a Cormac McCarthy novel, but there are threads of grace, humor, and compassion that provide glimmers of light on the horizon of a somber, burned-out landscape. An excellent read.
Eileen Pucci
It's not by accident that the protagonist of this novel is named after the great philosopher. Socrates Fortlow, an ex-con living in Watts in an abandoned apartment, is wrestling with himself, his anger and his need to live a righteous life.

He is a scary guy, but I still want to take him home and give him a hot meal and a warm bed.
I read the novel while concurrently watching the first few seasons of The Wire and I would compare the on-the-street-grime style of the book favorably with that of the TV show, rather the complement in truth. Socrates is basically a retired criminal, too old to carry on as he had in his youth and much the wiser for his previous experience. The book is composed of a series of short stories that follow his day to day life within the Watts community in Los Angeles and is gripping throughout. I woul ...more
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Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Socrates Fortlow (3 books)
  • Walkin' the Dog
  • The Right Mistake: The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow
Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins #1) The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey Black Betty (Easy Rawlins #4) Little Scarlet (Easy Rawlins #9) The Man in My Basement

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