Episode 031: Charcoal Joe

Thanks for joining us! We’re talking about Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley.

Life seems to be finally turning around for Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. He’s just opened a PI agency with two partners and is planning to propose to his girlfriend. What could possibly go wrong? An old pal shows up and asks Easy to meet with notorious gangster Rufus Tyler, known on the street as “Charcoal Joe”. Charcoal Joe has a request. Joe’s friend’s son, Seymour, a young bright “top of his class” student at Stanford, was arrested for the murder of two white men. Seymour is an unlikely suspect,, but when you’re found at the murder scene and you happen to be black in LA in 1968, there’s little hope for justice. So, Easy takes the case and we’re off with Easy on his latest adventure, meeting a cast of colourful and questionable characters, getting into and out of tight spots, all while getting a glimpse into Mosley’s thoughts on American race relations and inner-city culture in the 1960’s and today.

In this episode we discuss

Devil in the Blue Dress (film);

Publishing Certificate Program – The City College of New York;

The Quarantine Tapes: a podcast series on the cultural impact of social distancing;

Nicknames and how Trevor was a Captain for awhile;

Do you need to read a series in order?;

The right order to read about Narnia and watch Star Wars;

Physical descriptions of characters and the presence/absence of race in noir fiction;

The Books of Marvel’s Luke Cage (Book Riot article);

African American Mystery Writers and Their African American Detectives (LAPL blog post);

Kindred by Octavia Butler (graphic novel);

Among Others by Jo Walton.

Can you tell me a book I would also like?

Trevor: Fatal Remains by Eleanor Taylor Bland (the Marti MacAlister mysteries);

Erica: Luther (TV series);

Kirsten: The DreadfulWater mysteries by Thomas King;

Dennis: The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke.

Nerd words for word nerds

Erica: Bilbliotropic and Butt (and Princess Princess Ever After and The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill and Lingo by Gaston Dorren);

Trevor: Onward;

Kirsten: In for a penny, in for a pound;

Dennis: Easy.

Many thanks to Amer Pouliot, Eileen Gilbert, shundran79, and everyone who got in touch with us / contributed to the discussions on social media!

Next month we’re talking about The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. It’s available in print and online through Overdrive.

We’re looking forward to hearing what you think. Visit us at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca. Email us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca with suggestions, comments, and questions. Or join our Facebook group, and follow Winnipeg Public Library on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Time to Read is a production of the Winnipeg Public Library. Our panel today included Kirsten Wurmann, Dennis Penner, Trevor Lockhart, and Erica Ball.

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