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The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley
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The Man in My Basement

by Walter Mosley

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Charles Blakey, now unemployed because he stole money from a bank while working there, receives an unusual request from Anniston Bennet. Bennet wishes to rent his basement for a couple of months, paying Blakey an extraordinary amount of money for the privilege. Since Blakey owes money to friends, cannot find another job because of being blackballed by the bank's manager, and may lose the ancestral home because he cannot pay the mortgage, he reluctantly accepts the offer along with some strange conditions. Bennet sent boxes ahead with instructions for constructing his domicile for his stay. The assembled product looks very much like a prison cell. Bennet expects Blakey to be his jailer for the duration of his stay. Blakey probes into Bennet's life and Bennet reveals his intimate knowledge of Blakey's own life. Strange book. While this is definitely "not my genre" and appears to be more male-oriented, particularly when it comes to the types of vulgarity included from time to time, it was not as bad as expected. I did not identify with any of the characters. I doubt I will read anything else by the author, but at least I read one book from cover to cover. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jun 5, 2018 |
Charles Blakey is a young, unemployed man living in a house inherited from his parents. He has a mortgage, no prospects for future employment and not much meaning in his life. Along comes Mr. Bennet, who wants to rent the basement....more than that, he wants to be imprisoned in the basement, with Charles as his jailer, to atone for his crimes. A bit creepy.

The unlikeliness of this scenario is overcome by the strong character development of Charles. Having a man locked in the basement changes him, puts him more in touch with himself and his ancestry. It is, ultimately, a very disturbing but satisfying book as it raises many moral issues.

Like others, I found the weakness to be the secondary characters, who were less well-developed but important for the impacts they had on Charles. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 21, 2017 |
I was truly drawn into the novel during the perhaps the first half of the book, and then it just got too bizarre. First, Charles is such an unappealing character and the man in the basement is just not believable. I'm sure there is a lot of philosophy regarding atonement, evil, sin, justification, etc., but it just didn't touch a nerve with me that I was hoping that it would. ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 17, 2013 |
Walter Mosley was one of the keynote authors at last week's NCIBA conference for independent book stores. I grabbed this book because I wanted to read something by him before the conference. Wow - what an amazing author! Although Mosley is best known as a creator of the Easy Rawlins mystery series, a story like The Man in My Basement really falls into the literary fiction category. We tend to judge mystery authors differently than other authors. Usually, we're looking for a good plot with lots of twists and believable characters. But we forgive our mystery authors if the writing style is lacking or even formulaic. Well, there is no need to forgive Mr. Mosley. His writing style is tight and descriptive, with each word carefully chosen and placed.

The title character of this book is Charles Blakey. At age 33, Charles has failed at everything in life. He is unemployed and blacklisted in the town because he was suspected of stealing money from the bank he worked at. He lives in his family home, but is at risk of losing it because he can't keep up with the payments. It seems like he has little hope left, when a white stranger, Anniston Bennet offers Blakey $50,000 if he can live in his basement for several weeks. Although Blakey is suspicious of this odd request, he is desperate for the money and accepts the offer. Bennet moves into Blakey's basement and Blakey assumes the strange role of warden as Bennet voluntarily imprisons himself in the basement. The book covers several complex themes of ancestry, crime, punishment, and ultimately redemption. Definitely a complicated book that will stay with me for awhile. ( )
1 vote jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
Well, I found this really rather fascinating. Creepy in a spooky sort of way, not knowing what was really going on. And very interesting dilemmas and ideas thrown up in the second half of the book.

Can't say I particularly liked Charles Blakey, he's not the sort of person I'd really want to spend time with. But I found his interaction with Anniston Bennet very interesting, both from him having his horizons widened (in a rather creepy way, I found Bennet's life icky in the extreme, although he himself came across as urbane and charming -- IF you were doing what he wanted you to do, of course...) and from Blakey learning to control the situation (or not, as occasion demanded). ( )
  wookiebender | Dec 3, 2010 |
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"Mr. Blakey?" the small white man asked.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031615931X, Paperback)

Hailed as a masterpiece-the finest work yet by an American novelist of the first rank-The Man in My Basement tells the story of Charles Blakey, a young black man who can't find a job, drinks too much, and, worst of all, stands to lose the beautiful home that has belonged to his family for generations. But Charles's fortunes take an odd turn when a stranger offers nearly $50,000 to rent out Charles's basement-and soon, as the boarder transforms the basement into a prison cell, Charles finds himself drawn into circumstances almost unimaginably bizarre and profoundly unsettling.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

To save the home that has belonged to his family for generations, Charles Blakey, a young black man whose life is slowly crumbling around him, agrees to rent out his basement for the summer to a mysterious stranger.

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