The Tempest Tales
Walter Mosley
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The Tempest Tales

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  560 ratings  ·  95 reviews

Mistaken for another man, wily Tempest is "accidentally" shot by police. Sent to receive the judgment of heaven he discovers that his sins, according to St. Peter, condemn him to hell. Tempest takes exception to the saint's definition of sin; he refuses to go to hell and explains that he, a poor Black man living in Harlem, did what he did for family, friends, and love.


4 pages
Published (first published May 1st 2008)
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Well, this was a very entertaining take on an old idea - good vs. evil in the battle for men's souls and destinies. It had a lot of the street-smart flavor and memorable characters of Mosley's best works and was very reminiscent (intentionally so) of Langston Hughes, to whom it was dedicated. Joshua, the Accounting Angel, was a particularly well-drawn character and I really felt for him as he struggled with his burgeoning humanity while trying to do his job of convincing Tempest to accept his et...more
Wow. This book was very thought-provoking. It deals with the gray areas of sin, and why we may not be what we think we are. A MUST read.
Madeline Knight-Dixon
This book has so many levels I don’t really know where to start reviewing it from… First off the basic plot is about a man who is accidentally shot in Harlem and when he gets to the St. Peter at the gates of heaven, refuses his ruling. The reason he refuses however is where the story becomes multi-layered. These different layers are narrated by the “accounting angel of heaven”, who is sent to Earth with Tempest to convince him that he is a sinner.

Racially: The most obvious reason Tempest refuses...more
"The Tempest Tales" intrigued me because it is the story of a man who finds himself face to face with St.Peter at the "pearly gates" and refuses to accept St.Peter's divine judgment regarding the life he lived on earth and, consequently, also refuses to be consigned to eternal damnation, aka, hell. He returns to earth accompanied by an accounting angel who is sent to convince Tempest Landry to accept his sins and receive his "just reward". By the time this short tale is done, Tempest Landry emer...more
Jaak Treiman
St. Peter condemns Tempest, who has been "accidentally" shot by the police, to hell. Tempest refuses. A sometimes humorous exploration of what is "good" and what is "evil" by Walter Mosely, who continues to experiment in different genres. He is one of America's best current writers.
This is NOT a religious book. I say that so I can ask you, do you know what sin is? Read this book and you may change your mind. Written as only Walter Mosley could, it's funny and makes you think. Imagine questioning St. Peter at the pearly gates!
This book was terrrible. The arguments Mosley raises holds no water and therefore the book ends up lacking in everything. It becomes annoying, stupid and ill-contrived. I can see how this concept would make for a good story but what about personal responsibility. Not every African American born in Tempest environment becomes a sinner nor to they ultimately end up making the same decisions as him.

The character are all weak. Why was Tempest brought back to earth? So he can continue to live the ex...more
Tempest Landry is a young man trying to make the best of what life in Harlem has handed him. One day, in a case of mistaken identity, he is shot and killed. When he arrives at the Pearly Gates he is held accountable for his acts, turned away and told he is on his way to Hell. Tempest disagrees with the judgment – he’s not a bad guy. After all didn’t he buy groceries for his aunt when she was ill? Okay, he stole money from the church to do it. And didn’t he stand up in court to help send a man to...more
*****SPOILER ALERT***** I really enjoyed this book; can't say that I've ever read anything like it. It was VERY thought provoking and entertaining. Not once in my life have I ever come close to imagining someone refusing to accept their fate on judgement day. On numerous occasions I found myself deep in thought saying 'hmmmm'. In my mind this book was kinda twisted on many accounts (for lack of a better word), the main one being that Tempest was made to believe (and so was I initially) that he w...more
I enjoyed this book. Not as much as some of Mosley's other novels, but the ideas and the concepts explored within were intriguing and thought-provoking.

Below is the summary from the GoodReads site, just to jog my memory...

Mistaken for another man, wily Tempest is "accidentally" shot by police. Sent to receive the judgment of heaven he discovers that his sins, according to St. Peter, condemn him to hell. Tempest takes exception to the saint's definition of sin; he refuses to go to hell and expla...more
The Tempest Tales tells the story of Tempest Landry, an African-American man who is mistakenly killed on the streets of Harlem, New York. He goes to receive his eternal reward but voices disagreement with St. Peter’s judgment that he should go to hell as punishment for his sinful life. Tempest refuses this fate and insists that he never committed a sin he didn’t have to. As he sees it, what heaven might consider sin, is sometimes simply a poor man trying to get by. He is given a chance to return...more
When Tempest Landry is mistakenly killed by the police, he is turned away from Heaven by St. Peter. What sets this story rolling? Tempest doesnt agree with St. Peter's judgement, claiming that most of his sins were done out of neccessity. His argument rests on the fact that being a poor Black man in a world designed to keep him down, has forced him to do whatever he must in order to survive.

The saints give him a chance to prove his righteousness, sending him back to earth in a new body, but the...more
I wanted to give this book four stars. I like the story, the ideas, and most of the writing.

However, it claims to be a novel-in-stories, which I don't think it was. Also, there were multiple times that the author repeated himself, as if reintroducing the story each chapter. That was distracting and irritating. It was also a lot shorter than it looked. It was published more like a young adult novel, large print and fewer words per page. If it were printed like a traditional adult novel I don't th...more
"Who cares about the rules when it comes to doing what's right?" That's my favorite quote from the book.

When I first started reading this book, I came to it defending what I thought would be an attack against religion or against God. This is always a little tough, since I have to sort out the author's views from my views and then see if there is anything left that we have in common. I quickly found that we have nothing in common, but the book is not so much an attack on religion as it is an atta...more
I just gobbled this up in audiobook form. This book is a tightly woven collection of short stories (not quite a novel, but not really independent stories either).

The main plot trope is pretty familiar (person dies, heaven lets them be reincarnated to do something or prove something), and Mosley’s story has a few things in common with the others. One difference, of course, is that he sets the novel in Harlem with a black male protagonist. The angel ("Mr. Angel") who comes along with Tempest is i...more
While it isn't always the strongest narrative Mosley has written (even at less than 200 pages, it sometimes feels a little repetitive), The Tempest Tales is definitely worth a read just for the ideas behind it. There are a lot of interesting takes on good and evil, the nature of sin, and how humanity can stand in the battle of higher powers.

Tempest Landry is a solid character to have in this kind of story. He is a good man, but the circumstances of life have meant that he's no saint. And in que...more
Shequaila Lacy
This book has so much that you can site down and talk about with a friend or family.Well, this was a very entertaining take about good vs. evil in the battle for men's souls and destinies. It had a lot of memorable characters of Mosley's best works and was very reminiscent of Langston Hughes. Joshua, the Accounting Angel was a particularly well drawn character. And I really felt bad for him as he was struggling with his burgeoning humanity while trying to do his job. The one I did get was Tempes...more
The battle between good and evil takes on a different face when Tempest refuses to accept the judgement of heaven. While he acknowledges that he has done things that could be considered wrong, he is determined to believe that he is not a sinner and should not have to go to hell. He is the first person to reject St. Peter's ruling and he is returned to earth with an angel whose job it is to prove to Tempest that he is indeed a sinner and should accept the judgement of heaven.

I picked this book up...more
Raven Moore

This is a story that pulls at your morality on every page. Do we have the right to decide our own judgment? Can we be forgiven even for the worst of sins? I think about all of the famous people who commit terrible crimes and then are somehow forgiven when the next movie, the next song, or the next book comes out. I don't really understand how that kind of forgiveness works but I do know that Tempest could make a hell of a case for any situation. A lesson in forgiveness, it is. I still can't say...more
Nancy Alexander
Does man have free will to reject the sentence of Heaven? Does being Black and poor in America force us to live amorally? The Good Book says that we shall LIVE by the commandments and not DIE by them. So does that make thievery morally acceptable if it's done to help someone? I respect Tempest's insistence all through the book that this is so. He's consistent in his morality if nothing else. His guardian angel isn't; he's corrupted by the mortal form he takes in order to get Tempest to submit to...more
The Tempest Tales by Walter Mosley was a fast read that leaves you with much to think on. There are strong themes of religion and questioning of it in this book. Tempest Landry is walking home one night when police mistake him for a thief and shoot him. When he dies and stands before St. Peter and hears the list of sins and the pronouncement that he's being sent to hel, however, he denies his sin and that he should go to hell. This actually puts heaven in a predicament because apparently Tempest...more
I stopped reading. Sounded like a real good book and some parts of it are indeed funny. Wish I could've gotten through to the end to see if the book redeems itself, but I couldn't abide by the false logic. The sentiments are True and so is the Compassion and Empathy, but the logic and therefore the basis of the thinking and argument is False.

People run with this type of thinking and now we've got the problem we have with the government and our societal structure.

Maybe the book redeemed itself a...more
Donna Jo Atwood
Tempest, a Black man, has died and gone to be judged by St. Peter, who deems him worthy of Hell. Tempest refuses to go, finally working out a deal that he be sent back to earth with a recording angel who is to persuade Tempest to accept St. Peter's judgment.
The angel has to deal with Tempest, the temptation on the streets of New York City, and his mission to get Tempest to accept his sins.
The kicker is that if Tempest refuses it will probably mean the end of Heaven and the triumph of Satan.
Fred P
This book confirms my admiration for writer Walter Mosley. The book is a sheer joy to read, fast-paced, humorous and heartfelt. On the surface this is a philosophical debate between heaven and hell, or heaven and mankind, but underneath the surface this is a debate about the role of race, class and roots in the making of a man.

Tempest is man with a good heart, who sometimes crosses the line into moral relativism, or ethical intuitionism. This puts him at odds with his guardian angel, and after...more
Walter Mosley made his way onto my Spring and Summer book list because of the availablity of his works at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

The Tempest Tales is pretty thought provoking. A death opens up the door on a story about life that had me questioning what would I do ir....

Imagine that you are standing before St. Peter and you've just heard that instead of entering heaven, you're going to hell. Only you refuse to accept that decision. This is how The Tempest Tales begin.

I really liked th...more
Wendy Joyce
There's something just plain fun about Mr. Mosley's stories...and The Tempest Tales is no different; it is a fun read. The story, simple yet clever, is about an unsavory character named Tempest, who dies and expects to get into Heaven. When Heaven's gatekeeper points out Tempest's sins, Tempest argues about the definition and context of sin. Immediately, I'm rooting for Tempest. "Give them hell," and Tempest does just that. No fluffy preaching or fussy sermons, the story is just plain fun!

I read a review of this book that "dissed" it because it was TOO SHORT!

Tempest Landry is sent to Heaven after being murdered in error by the cops. There St Peter tells him that he needs to "go to Hell." Tempest says "NO". He is the first to "just-say-NO".
Tempest is remanded to Earth with an angel who is to show Tempest that he is a sinner & must accept the judgment of Heaven. Tempest is stubborn, as-well-as, smart & gives the angel a great debate on the philosophy of his charges (&...more
Tempest Landry is at the Pearly Gates when St Peter tells him because of his sins, he has to go to hell. Tempest, in a first of all eternity, refuses, so he's given, not a second chance, but is sent to earth to realize what a real sinner he is. The story is told from the point of view of the angel who returns to earth with him, and to whom Tempest demonstrates the sorrows and compromises of being a human, especially a poor black human in New York. Good characters, with a lot of debate between Te...more
This was something of a change of pace for Mosely, being neither noir fiction set in LA nor science fiction. Instead, its a fantasy that tells the story of a black man who is accidentally shot? by the police and the result of his unwillingness to accept blame at the Pearly Gates for his actions in his life.

The conversations between Tempest Landry and his angelic watchman, Joshua, are witty and dark at the same time, as they explore the nature of good and evil, and personal responsibility.
Frances Levy
Once again Walter Mosley puts the Great Philosophical Discussion into the mouths of the common man, whose wisdom often proves greater than that of heaven.

Tempest Landry is smart, wily and hilarious. He is also completely honest - as it turns out, more honest to himself and with others than either the angel sent to bring Tempest to his determined fate or the Evil One determined to capture his soul.

Not a book for evangelicals, but everyone else should like it every bit as much as I did.
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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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