Shipping News’ Jason Noble Is Inspired By: Walter Mosley

One constant over the past 17 years of MAGNET has been the music of Jason Noble. First with the post-hardcore Rodan, then the classically inclined Rachel’s, the post-rock Shipping News and the theatrically concerned Young Scamels, Noble has always been involved with projects that interested and challenged us. Noble has two new releases: a live Shipping News album, One Less Heartless To Fear (Karate Body/Noise Pollution), and the debut LP from the Young Scamels, Tempest (File 13). Unfortunately, creating music is hardly the main concern for Noble these days. The 39-year-old Louisville, Ky., native was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, 15 months ago and is currently battling the disease with the determination, positive energy and modesty he has always displayed in his two-decade musical career. MAGNET is proud to have Noble guest editing our website all week. Read our Q&A with him.

Noble: Walter Mosley is an author of detective fiction and crime stories. He’s also an editor, activist and winner of the Anisfield Wolf Award (for writing that encourages the understanding of race and human diversity). His rare gift is to use the mystery genre to bring rich and troubled characters together, while sharply observing the struggle of decent people of all backgrounds to find a safe haven in America. Issues of friendship and trust are central to these stories. The level of detail and sense of place that he conjures is one of his greatest strengths, but the love and human decency he captures (even in the face of true hatred and violence) is really powerful. I’ve read quite a few of his novels over the years including many of the Easy Rawlins series (Devil In A Blue Dress, Bad Boy Brawly Brown). There is one book that struck my heart with such force I’ve had to return several times to just “be with it.” A collection of 14 short stories all linked in one narrative, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (1997) is a masterpiece of any genre. In fact, it may not even really be a crime novel. Most of the real crime in his stories is what happens to good people who try to fight the system or ask for forgiveness or dare to be more than what has been forced upon them. The main character, Socrates Fortlow, is an ex-convict haunted by his violent early life who wants only to be at peace. In Mosley’s world, peace doesn’t come easily, and Socrates finds himself mediating, debating, battling and repairing his neighborhood in Watts. Social barriers and tests of faith fill these stories, presenting a side of Los Angeles that is free from its glossy mythology. The moral clarity and sense of purpose will touch readers from any world, and the beautiful craft of his writing will stay with you a long time and possibly give you strength when you think you’ve finally taken all you can. To say something is “inspiring” can be faint praise, suggesting a soft pat on the back, but this book is a swift kick to the heart, saying, “Keep beating. Never, never, never give up.”

Video after the jump.