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Fortunate Son - Walter Mosley So I've had this one on my radar for awhile. After reading Ptolomy Grey, I was even more excited and so maybe my rating of 3 (instead of 4) is in part disappointment. Going in, I was convinced that this would be a 5 star book and so I'm having a hard time deciding between 3 and 4; maybe I should just call it a 3.5 star and be done.

As far as genre, I would not call this a fantasy or a fairy tale (as others have done). I would call it pop-surreal (which as far as I know is not actually a literary genre). It reminds me of Mark Ryden and Audrey Kowasaki's paintings. There is a lot to look at, some of it is hyper-realistic, but overall it is just a caricature of reality. In art, I find this interesting; in a novel it was just annoying.

Some of the text was just way too overt. Yes, I know that Eric is a (not so subtle) symbol of perfection (rather than an actual character), but I still would have preferred if Mosley tried for some realism during these heart-to-heart conversations. For example, 14 year old Eric and Minas have the following conversation: "You never complained about anything. If I told you something, you just listened to me. Children are supposed to fight with their parents. Sons are supposed to want to push their fathers aside. But I always felt that you were trying to protect me instead of the other way around." Really? In what universe would this happen? Especially given that they never talk? It is fine for Minas to think it or even talk to Ahn about it, but he should never say it to Eric.

I was also annoyed that Minas never appeared to mourn his first wife. Brawnwyn was the goddess who came in and controlled Eric and delivered the divine Tommy, but Joanne (I think that was her name) was virtually ignored. And speaking of Tommy, he is just another Jesus symbol, but this one the scapegoat who takes all (and I do mean ALL) the beating and never gets any reward.

Certainly the good news is that there is a parable here: we should learn that happiness does not come from traditional success or monetary comfort or adoration from strangers. True happiness is something that comes from within (altho I wasn't completely convinced that Tommy is just inherently happy, could his happiness come from his satisfaction and self-efficacy? Is he happy just because or is he happy because he helps people?). According to Tommy, "We all lucky, Eric. And the luckiest ones are the ones happy about bein' alive."

Unfortunately, it was just too symbolic and buried in fate: "Everything that happened was going to happen, and there was no other chance." and religious undertones for my taste. The style bugged me, Mosely was too overt for my liking (I hate it when I see the author trying). Overall, though it was entertaining and a compelling read.