Saturday, July 25, 2009

Man And Basement: A Book Review

Recently I've been reading a lot more books than usual. I'm doing that to decide which ones I want to sell or donate.

A book I read was The Man In My Basement, by Walter Mosley, probably better known as the author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series. In the book, a man named Anniston Bennet imprisons himself in the basement of a home owned by Charles Dodd-Blakey, who lives in the Sag Harbor area, which is near the Hamptons in eastern Long Island. Bennet did it as a form of penance. He was a player in international political economy, for lack of a better term, and he committed many, many evil deeds.

I will donate the book. It was interesting enough to read once to pass the time, but not for another possible read in the future.

However, Mosley had several passages that caught my attention and gave me new angles on and explanations about life. So I'll post them here.

Here's the first. In it, Dodd-Blakey meets a neighbor, a young white woman:

She was from a local family and therefore accepted me as part of the community. Being a Negro, I was different. We would never be real friends. But neither of us really wanted that, nor did we feel left out of something. And so it was pleasant when we did cross paths. Good morning meant just that.

Here's one where Dodd-Blakey is watching some deer:

I loved to watch deer watching me. They were so timid and ignorant of everything but the possible threat. People think that they're cowardly, but I've been charged by a male or two. I respected them, because with no defense except for their quick feet they lived out in the wild with no law or protection. I once saw a group of 15 or more of them swimming out to Shelter Island. Their heads were just above the water, they looked frightened and desperate out there. Cowards don't face terror. Cowards live on back roads, behind closed doors, with the TVs blasting out anything to keep the silence and darkeness from intruding.

A third one is when Bennet explains love to Dodd-Blakey:

"Love, as the poet says, is like the spring. It grows on you and seduces you slowly and gently, but it holds tight like the roots of a tree. You know until you're ready to go that you can't move, that you would have to mutilate yourself in order to be free. That's the feeling. It doesn't last, at least it doesn't have to. But it holds on like a steel claw in your chest. Even if the tree dies, trhe roots cling to you. I've been men and women give up everything for love that once was."

In this one, Bennet explains how people are motivated:

"My actions were ... evil, criminal. But it was not me; it was the world around me. Not me but the commerce and the language of our world ... Death and starvation are integral parts of our language system, our form of communication.
Do what I say or else. Do your job or you're fired. These words carry consequence. To avoid pain we comply. Or we don't and then we die, Our logic is evil, so the the smartest and most successful are devils. Like me, I am a good citizen ande the worst demon."

And the last quote is Dodd-Blakey's casual thought while reading a science fiction book:

Why was I alive and seeing and thinking and dreaming if everything was just stoplights and television, test and failures, red wine and death?

I've wondered something like that many times and found that quote was an elegant way to say it.

No comments: