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John Woman de Walter Mosley
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John Woman (edició 2019)

de Walter Mosley (Autor)

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1017209,409 (3.41)9
At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father's job at a silent film theater in New York's East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself--as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman's teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.… (més)
Membre:allways213
Títol:John Woman
Autors:Walter Mosley (Autor)
Informació:Grove Press (2019), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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John Woman de Walter Mosley

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» Mira també 9 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 7 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This is one of the most deeply aggravating novels I've ever read. The characters are unbelievable, the story line ridiculous, the action implausible, the relationships between men and women misogynistic and frequently repulsive. The hoped-for scenes of denouement come and go without resolution: after many pages of anticipation of a big show-down, two antagonistic characters finally meet and nothing happens. Over and over again.

Why am I giving it 5 stars? Well honestly it could have been 1 star just as easily except for this: I've decided to take a leap of faith with Walter Mosley.

I've decided to think, for instance, that when he writes a misogynistic scene it's for a purpose other than revolting me. It is a big leap to make, and I understand if other readers can't quite see the other side of the chasm.

But let's just say for now that this masterful storyteller isn't just blowing off steam, writing a quickie because he has nothing better to write. Let's say every sentence here is purposeful, up to and including when a prostitute says to her john the most limp and clichéd line possible: "I'm just a whore." Let go of your judgmental thoughts, and also, notice that a good third of the dialog in this novel consists of historiographical meanderings all leading to the conclusion that stories, even true ones, even what we call history, are imaginary constructs, made up by the powerful to take away even more power from the weak.

Let's say you start applying these historiographical meanderings to the story you're reading here on the page. Interesting things start to happen.

For instance you learn the whore has a day job and all sorts of other lives and she knows that about herself even when the narrator in a previous chapter made her say "I'm just a whore."

You learn that the protagonist, John Woman, who has been presented as having agency and as the hero of this story, is actually a pawn in a rich white man's cultish game.

There are many other mind tricks and challenges being thrown at the reader here, all at once, and the act of reading and interpreting the story demonstrates very literally the core thesis, that there is no truth, no cause-and-effect, no matter how we search for it, or try to make our own connections in this story.

You might hate it. It could be I'm just making this all up. But that, too, would turn back to the core philosophical thesis that threads through this entire novel. Is Cy Twombly's art a scribble on the canvas, or something deeper? Is this book stoopid pig slop, or is it a way into thinking about the nature of storytelling, and truth, and the uses of history?

I'll be thinking about this for a long time. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
I can't remember the last time I gave a book one star, and I can't believe I'm doing it to Walter Mosley, but I found much of the writing in this book unforgivable. I can get past the professor-student sex because I don't sense any power imbalance or coercion in the relationship, and in his B&D fixations, John Woman is always the B. In theory, I like many of the threads in this book - the crime plot, the examination of the practice of history, the protagonist's complicated relationship with truth. The first 80 pages covering his childhood were fine, but after that, so much went sour for me.

Among my aggravations: The female characters were wooden puppets; John Woman's much ballyhoo'ed genius as a historian and teacher were nowhere in evidence; his supposedly brilliant lectures were either tedious, or unrealistic Socratic dialogues, with students asking perfectly positioned questions (only Plato can get away with this); the cult thread was simultaneously grandiose and threadbare. So that's for starters.

But most unforgivable of all is the writing. There were some great moments, but they were few and far between. Mosley has a bizarre habit of giving a brief inventory (not description) of what a character is wearing whenever they make an appearance - it happens continually, and rarely adds anything to an understanding of the character. They felt like non-sequiturs to me, and after a while, almost laughable. What was Mosley thinking???? John Woman's pedantic speaking voice was so overdone that I was developing eye roll fatigue. In fact, in one snippet of dialogue, I think even Mosley was making fun of him:

“If you didn’t tell him then who did?” Colette asked.
“You knew I became a history professor.”
“So what?”
“In the modern world history is contained almost completely in language. Other modes of recording exist but the written word is still the accepted way to pass on knowledge.”
“Okay. So?”
“In your journal you recorded that you loved me and that I was Chris’ father.”
“Oh….shit.”


Mosley also makes it a point to describe the exact skin color of each non-white character. While this also stilts the writing, I can see more of a point here - if you're going to describe someone's skin color, then do it, don't resort to race categories and all the historical baggage they carry.

When the writing did work for me, it was wonderful though, as in this passage, where John compares himself to the father he revered, the self-taught Herman:

“John read the same books as Herman, had tried his best to disappear into stories that were both true and indecipherable. But rather than a king in exile he’d become a kind of Tallyrand agitating between the ruling classes, the workers and the revolutionists. Where Herman had been heroic John was just a scarecrow, forgotten in a barren field that had once been flush and fruitful.” ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I was so happy to see this book in the bookstore. I have loved Mosley’s books in the past, especially the Easy Rawlins stories. I did not love this one though. I’m giving it three stars because I do think it had important and interesting things to think about in it. But no more than three stars because I also thought not one of the female characters was believable, and the whole thing just seemed a bit pretentious. Your mileage may vary. ( )
  jennyo | Feb 3, 2019 |
What a thought provoking book. Is history as we think we know it true? The question is much more complex than what I've just simply stated and honestly I'm not sure I always understood all the points that were being made. So the book has this philosophical bent but then complex characters and an underlying interesting plot so it hits all the bases. So well done and there could be a lot of discussion on what really happened at the end. ( )
  kayanelson | Oct 17, 2018 |
"John Woman" is a treatise on mind, race, history, morality, religion and murder. It did not engage my interest and I did not finish.

I received a review copy of "John Woman" by Walter Mosley (Grove Atlantic) through NetGalley.com. ( )
  Dokfintong | Sep 9, 2018 |
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At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father's job at a silent film theater in New York's East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself--as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman's teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.

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