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Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  1,047 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
This bold new novel from Walter Mosley startles in both its rawness and its honest portrayal of a man on a quest for sexual redemption in midlife. When Cordell Carmel catches his longtime girlfriend with another man, the act that he witnesses seems to dissolve all the boundaries he knows. In that instant, the calm existence of this middle-aged New York City man becomes som ...more
Hardcover, 280 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Bloomsbury USA
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Lisabet Sarai
May 19, 2011 Lisabet Sarai rated it really liked it
[This review was originally published at Erotica Revealed -]

Walter Mosley is well known as a writer of crime and mystery novels. Needless to say, his first foray into the genre of sex writing has occasioned a flurry of sceptical and childishly embarrassed media commentary. I first became aware of KILLING JOHNNY FRY when someone on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association Writers forum ( posted the URL of Jennifer Reese's scathing review from En
Aug 08, 2008 Lester rated it really liked it
The esteemed crime novelist Walter Mosely tries his hand at porn...and it's pretty cool! His main character is a bit more tortured than many of Henry Miller's notable swashbucklers--but hey, the context and times are way different...

I actually appreciated greatly his *brief* meditations on race, neurosis, power, abuse, sex, and inter-racial/intra-racial sexual dynamics, being a man of color myself. Of course, one has to wade through the veritable oceans of BDSM and rough anal sex to get to those
Jan 31, 2008 Charlie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mature readers
At last an intelligent writer has integrated sexual fantasies and experiences explicitly into his epiphany of a man whose life is impacted when he walks in on his girlfriend having wild sex with a friend of his. Oh yes, it is definitely pornography but nothing like you have ever read before even if some of you nostalgically remember smudged pages we snuck around high school classes of Lady Chatterly's Lover or Peyton Place. The protagonist enters the underground sexual playgrounds of New York Ci ...more
Apr 02, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok
I would put 2 1/2 stars if I could.

Funny story behind this book. I read it a few years ago. I had not read a book in quite awhile and a co-worker of mine was constantly going to library reading book after book. I told her one day while she was there to pick me up something good to read. I figured if anyone knew about good books, it would be her.
Well, after I started the book and asked her what she was thinking picking out this book for me she confessed that she just grabbed any old book off the
Richard Vialet
3.5 stars
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 girlfr
Oct 15, 2012 Quan rated it really liked it
Yay, literary porn! Or is it pornographic literature? Whatever the term, this is a book about a man going through a mid-life crisis and finding his way through kinda out-there sex. It's about a guy, Cordell, 45, who's your average guy working his cushy day-job. He's had a stable girlfriend for 8 years. Everything's pretty peachy until he accidentally discovers she's cheating on him. That throws him into finding himself by banging a bunch of people.

Mosley takes the same approach here as he does i
Feb 02, 2016 Albert rated it really liked it
Killing Johnny Fry: A Sexistential Novel by Walter Mosley is shocking, raw, funny and deeply troubling on so many levels. It is a mid-life crisis set in motion by betrayal and lust and the inevitable pain of self realization. It is that moment, that glimpse in the mirror, when for a brief horrifying second you actually see your true self.

Cordell Carmel is a translator, a calm and unassuming middle age man who has lived his life like a placid untroubled body of water. His relationships are much
Dec 09, 2012 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Combine Henry Miller with Camus and Sartre and you have Walter Mosley's sexistentialist novel Killing Johnny Fry.

When Cordell Carmel discovers his longtime lover Joelle is having an affair with a casual acquaintance Johnny Fry, Cordell descends into a long day's journey into night. Cordell immediately quits his job and proceeds to have affairs with multiple women and plots Fry's murder.

Cordell's psyche is sent deeper into an existential abyss through his obsession with a high-end porn movie, the
Mar 21, 2012 Kenny rated it it was amazing
Well. This one came as a complete surprise. I got it last October, put it in a box in storage, and just found it and read it last week. Rescued from the 'Bargain' table at some bookstore and scooped it up (disgusted with the high prices for 'New' Mosley books I'd not read at this mid-sized retailer.) These bargain tables can often hold hidden gems, and while certainly NOT what I was accustomed to story-wise from this author, having read only about half of his Easy Rawlins books, I found it very ...more
Dec 07, 2013 Reggie rated it it was amazing
best book other than Ghetto Heaven I've read
Mimi Wolske
Jan 22, 2015 Mimi Wolske rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mimi by: RMBT PC BD
Killing Johnny Fry - A Sexistential Novel
Walter Mosley
280 pages
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury, London
ISBN: 9780747593140
COPYRIGHT: 2007 by Walter Mosley


A friend sent this to me several years ago; he said he liked it. I only briefly read it...skimming the pages looking for the story and not really putting any effort into it. So, I decided to reread...with effort.

If you can remember a (bawdy little-played calypso) song "Wah She Go Do" by Bonnie Raitt, or if you like the New York
Greg Heath
Oct 12, 2010 Greg Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The prolific Walter Mosley, author of the wildly popular Easy Rawlins series, returns to his crime noir roots in spectacular fashion with his latest novel, “Killing Johnny Fry,” published Dec. 2007, Bloomsbury USA. Mosley dubs this work a “sexistential novel,” and that it certainly is. Though deeply erotic and graphically disturbing in its frank depictions of sex and hedonistic delight, there is a profundity in the harrowing journey of self-discovery and redemption undertaken. Through the grit a ...more
Jun 27, 2010 Sherese rated it did not like it
WTF? Someone recommended this book during an Sunday afternoon tea because they weren't quite sure what to think about it and wanted someone to read it so as to get their opinion. First, I can definitely see why this person did not know what to think of this book. I certainly don't even know where to begin. I had no idea what I was getting into and this type of genre isn't what I'd ever chose to read. Don't get me wrong I love a good mystery as much as anyone else but this was porn disguised as a ...more
Jason Kurtz
Aug 30, 2010 Jason Kurtz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I guess I find it interesting that when a romance novel discusses a woman's sexual awakening or re-awakening it is almost an accepted trope, yet when a male author writes about a male character going through some of the same issues, it is is considered pornographic. Mosley's novel is explicit, yet I didn't feel that it was excessive, considering the title, and focus of the story. I can point out some sections of John Updike's work that are just as explicit.

Possibly Mosley's only error, is that h
Reema Brown
Mar 20, 2013 Reema Brown rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. I picked it up for $5.00 off a clearance box in barnes and noble simply for the cover. This was my introduction to Mosely and I've been a fan ever since.

KJF reads much like his private eye noir novels giving you that gritty, dark, whiskey on the breath, suspenseful, I need a shower kind of feeling. Extremely pornographic but so cleverly written with a very smart plot. No dumbed down language or boring run of the mill sexual fantasies. Not at all for the average housewife looking
Dannuel Saùl Delizo
Apr 23, 2016 Dannuel Saùl Delizo rated it really liked it
The first Walter Mosley book I read didn't impress me. But this one tortured me! I could feel the pain inside me, turning and burning. The sadness was just too thick. There were times I wanted to stop. But then I got so curious about what would L do?

Joelle was a dark character. All her secrets were caged in her secret world with Johnny Fry. What she and L had was a slap to reality that you could be with a person for years and years without being really close to each other. This novel also pointe
Mar 31, 2014 kelly rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book. It's Walter Mosley, right?


One hundred pages or so into this I gave up reading this book. Sure, it has a LOT of sex in it (it does call itself a 'sexistential' novel, after all) but this book was going nowhere for me. Even after the bit I did read, I am still unsure of what exactly the point of it was. To explore unconventional sex lives? To question some dude's lonely existence? Obviously I missed something, or maybe I'm far too impatient to figure it out rig
Brett Newmyer
Nov 05, 2012 Brett Newmyer rated it liked it
This book started off great. I was totally hooked, but then the story just started getting too sexual. I should have expected as much from a Sexistential Novel- but he kept surprising women, and seducing them, and he always ate out their butts.
Maybe I missed the symbology of all the butts he was eating out, but I got sick of it. I probably would have given 2 stars, but I'm a sucker for a good ending, and it did indeed have that.
Stacy Fetters
Nov 08, 2014 Stacy Fetters rated it it was amazing
Literary! Porn! Well, don't mind if I do.

You're in a loving relationship and you catch your gf cheating on you with someone who is larger than you and makes your girl cry out like she's getting hurt. What shall you do? Like any man you would destroy the other man. Well that's not what happens at all.
This is filled with the strangest and kinkiest sex imaginable. If you're a prude, you will be rudely offended. Since I have a fucked up mind, I ate this up.
Dec 03, 2009 Shawnda rated it it was amazing
This book was AMAZING. To me it was better then all of Zane's books put together. The book offers great sex scenes but it also challenges the mind mentally. The author does a great job keeping the reader guessing. Nothing is predictable and this book. It is truly my favorite! :-)
Jan 19, 2012 Michellejoy36 rated it it was amazing
This book was very intense. I felt sorry for Cordell but he seemed to really learn a lot from his situation. Very explicit and definitely caught me off guard.
Aug 08, 2011 Malika rated it it was ok
Was this a midlife crisis book? Not just for Cordell, but for Moseley?
Sep 22, 2016 Qianna rated it it was amazing
Not what I was expecting from the title
Feb 10, 2009 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike Smith
Jan 30, 2012 Mike Smith rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The subtitle of this explicit and graphic novel is very accurate. Improbably-named narrator Cordell Carmel, known as "L" to his friends and associates, begins to question everything in his ordinary life after walking in on his girlfriend having rough sex with mutual acquaintance Johnny Fry (they don't see him). Cordell becomes overwhelmed with disgust, rage, and lust. He begins to see the world in a new light... his job, his relationships, and his attitudes. He also begins to try some of the sex ...more
Joaquin Garza
Oct 01, 2013 Joaquin Garza rated it liked it
La primera y única vez que he leído pornografía. Porque ésta no es tanto una novela erótica como pornografía hecha y derecha: parece que todos y cada uno de los métodos y técnicas, y todas y cada una de las modas y perversiones sexuales (tipo 'El jardín de las delicias') se halla descrita en esta novela.

El señor Mosley, un veterano del hard-boiled detective que no tengo el gusto de conocer por otras novelas, desarrolló esta historia acerca de un hombre que, viendo que su novia le pone el cuerno,
Jun 11, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it
As one who counts himself a fan of Walter Mosley's intelligent handling of all manner of relationships, social, racial, generational, etc., the unabashed sexuality of this one caught me a little by surprise. At times it felt a little like Mosley was just exercising a literary muscle that he doesn't get to use in the other works very often. But most of the time, his gift for drawing you into someone else's situation made you feel as tormented/questioning/liberated as his Cordell Carmel.
Told al
Chris Horn
Sep 07, 2008 Chris Horn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cordell inadvertently walks in on his long-time lover having very rough sex in her Central Park West apartment. Instead of confronting them, he watches for a few minutes, leaves, then begins plotting to kill his rival. While doing so, he abruptly quits his job, starts a new a career (sort of) and takes several new lovers, and has rough sex with all of them.

This book reminds me of the scene in Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Faclon," where Sam Spade tells a story about a man who was narrowly miss
Jan 11, 2013 Jillian rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-books
Cordell Carmel walks in on his girlfriend having sex with a white guy. Then Cordell goes on a sex-rampage through the city of New York. Shockingly, every woman he meets, from the receptionist to the single mother on the subway, cannot wait to sleep with him. "What is it?" you ask. "Is he charming?" Not really. He's a 45-year-old man who has just quit his job as a translator of technical manuals. He's got an arsenal of platitudes that work on these women. "Who are these women?" you ask. Now that' ...more
Sep 18, 2009 Sherry rated it liked it
Although this is not one of Walter Mosley's best, it is a must read. It looks at how a man's world is torn apart when he finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and - he learns the life he thought he had been controling, is not what he thought it was at all. As he goes on his downward spiral he seems to be right below the surface of the water, but can't quite get his head above it for almost begin to feel sorry for him.
With it's raunchy sex scenes (and beleive me they get
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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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