The character development is very good. Easy is human with frailties and strengths, and I felt his confusion and pain and fear. Living a life as a black man in LA at that time was challenging, to put it mildly.
"California was like heaven for the Southern Negro. People told stories of how you could eat fruit right off the trees and get enough work to retire one day. The stories were true for the most part, but the truth wasn't like the dream. Life was still hard in L.A., and if you worked every day you still found yourself on the bottom."Easy has plenty of friends and acquaintances in the area, many of them transplants from Houston. One friend is Mouse, who he has avoided for years because of his extremely violent and amoral behavior. Yet, Easy feels he has to call on Mouse for help in this situation.
Social Justice Theme Read at Resistance is Futile. Thus I was more tuned in to the issues of racism than I might have been otherwise. I found I was paying more attention to examples of his treatment as a black in a white world. I wish I could say it was shocking to me, but even in today's world, it is not surprising to hear of discrimination and police brutality such as described in this book. And so many times, the way blacks are treated with disrespect is almost unconscious.
"A job in a factory is an awful lot like working on a plantation in the South. The bosses see all the workers like they're children, and everyone knows how lazy children are. So Benny thought he'd teach me a little something about responsibility because he was the boss and I was the child.
The white workers didn’t have a problem with that kind of treatment because they didn’t come from a place where men were always called boys. The white worker would have just said, ‘Sure, Benny, you called it right, but damn if I can see straight right now.’ And Benny would have understood that. He would have laughed and realized how pushy he was being and offered to take Mr. Davenport, or whoever, out to drink beer. But the Negro workers didn’t drink with Benny. We didn’t go to the same bars, we didn’t wink at the same girls."Another place where racism and prejudice played a big part was in the military service in World War II. I knew this. Even so, the brief descriptions of this period of Easy's life were most appalling to me. Prior to the beginning of World War II, the United States Army was segregated. Many black soldiers were not allowed to participate in combat and were relegated to support jobs. Only as the war neared its end did they allow blacks to join in units at the front.
"They said we didn't have the discipline or the minds for a war effort, but they were really scared that we might get to like the kind of freedom that death-dealing brings."And then he returns to a country where he is still subject to discrimination.
This taste of Walter Mosley's writing has me eager for more. Which is a good thing since I have copies of the next three in the series, plus the first book in the Leonid McGill series.