'The Man in My Basement'
By: Walter Mosley
(Hardcover / 192 Pages / Little Brown & Company; 1st edition / ISBN: 0316570826 / $22.95)
Description: Charles Blakey is a young black man whose life is slowly crumbling. His parents are dead, he can't find a job, he drinks too much, and his friends have begun to desert him. Worst of all, he's fallen behind on the mortgage payments for the beautiful home that's belonged to his family for generations. When a stranger offers him $50,000 in cash to rent out his basement for the summer, Charles needs the money too badly to say no. He knows that the stranger must want something more than a basement view. Sure enough, he has a very particular - and bizarre - set of requirements, and Charles tries to satisfy him without getting lured into the strangeness. But he sees an opportunity to understand secrets of the white world, and his summer with a man in his basement turns into a journey into inconceivable worlds of power and manipulation, and unimagined realms of humanity.
Verdict: Charles Blakey is so far down he is about to hit bottom. A smart man who reads science fiction, he is not able to get a job, drinks all day, and is down to his last dollar. Then the mysterious small white man appears, Anniston Bennet, with a bizarre proposition. Bennet will pay an enormous sum of money just to stay in Blakey's basement for two months. Actually, it gets stranger, for what Bennet really wants is to be imprisoned in that basement in a specially constructed steel cage. He has - let's say - issues he needs to work out. Not much happens after that except the increasingly stormy relationship between these two very different men, their dialogue, and Blakey's desperate attempts to maintain his sanity. The experience will shake Charles Blakey's world to its foundations, and it may change yours as well. This is a bizarre story, but a powerful one, beautifully written. Author Mosley is a master writer. His characterizations are brilliant. His portrayal of Charles Blakey's downfall, confusion, struggles and redemption is a work of genius. Even the sex scenes are worth reading - earthy and unsettling. If you don't read anything else this year, read 'The Man In My Basement'. In other words, I recommend it highly!
Reviewed by Sven Wilhemson