Friday, February 20, 2015

The Man in My Basement

Another early book review.

I'm taking a break from my original reading list. Still waiting on some new material coming in through interlibrary loan. Still waiting on my local copy of Burroughs's Naked Lunch. I've had it on hold a couple months now, as there's only one copy available for checkout and a waiting list. We'll get there eventually.

Anyway, after the last book, I found myself at a loss for what to read in the meantime -- as I can only stand ebooks in small doses, hard on the eyes, I prefer paper -- so I went perusing the public library shelves, randomly searching, and I came across what's turning out to be a pretty great book. I mean, higher caliber than what I've read in awhile, plus it's not that long, easy to read, yet still very smart, intellectual, philosophical.

It's called The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosely.

I had never heard of it before, it's fairly new, came out in 2004, meaning that it's not an old classic, though I have heard of the author, but hadn't ever read any of his stuff. He's black and American, so it'll be filed under my African-American literature category. It's a slow study of mine I'm undertaking, reading African American lit, as I feel a close emotional bond with African American writers.

It's a story of a black man, down on his luck, lost his job, behind on his mortgage payment, spending his nights getting drunk, playing cards, and reading science fiction novels. Can't get a job, because he drinks too much, but also because he was fired from his last one as a bank teller caught stealing from his drawer. It's sort of black listed him on the local employment front. He's a home owner, inherited the house he was born in, been in his family for over a hundred years. His ancestors were not slaves, but indentured servants, a fact that he and his family are proud of. He's in danger of losing the house, and out of the blue a mysterious white man, a wealthy economist/entrepreneur from Greenwich, Connecticut shows up on his door asking to rent out his basement for two months over the summer.

He's willing to pay big, over $50,000, but the catch is he wants to be locked in a cage down in the cellar, as punishment, or penance, for an undisclosed crime which he wishes to resolve this way. The tenant is to play the role of prisoner, and the landlord is to play the role of warden. Okay, that's all I will say for now. Other than, that the offer is accepted, and the remainder of the novel, focuses on deep philosophical conversations between the two. So far, and I'm a little over half way through it, it's a great book. At this point in time I would give it 4 out of 5 stars, and unlike the last book I read, I doubt I'll be changing my mind. 

No comments: