"...the African American book review of record."-Martin Arnold, New York Times culture critic

Black wavey line

All Genres

Data Elements: ucUserControlBookReviews.aspx
Back to all genres

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Any More

Walter Mosley
272 pages
Reviewed by Paris Hall

Famed porn queen, Debbie Dare, has experienced every possible kind of sex play in her thirty years in the business. Nothing, however, prepared her for the thunderous and wholly unwanted on-camera orgasm she experienced as she positioned herself for the film’s "money shot" – the climax re-played over and again on home screens around the world.

Screen sex was a living and a paycheck; she had long ago disconnected body from emotion. Yet the unexpected orgasm triggered a flood of remorse and repressions that shows her to be another of those strong, yet vulnerable, characters Mr. Mosley so expertly explores. Behind her now world-recognized waist-length, straightened platinum hair, richly dark skin, deep blue contact lenses, and signature white facial tattoo was a woman now keenly aware and no longer willing to be screwed, directed, positioned, or used by anyone.

 Debbie follows an oft-visited Mosley theme: the journey of extracting oneself from undesired consequence to re-creation and redemption. This theme threads itself throughout the author’s past works. Easy Rawlins, Socrates Fortlow, Fearless Jones, even Cordell Carmel (Killing Johnny Fry), Mr. Mosley’s protagonist in his first sex adventure, all follow the same calling. This reviewer thought, for an elated moment, that Mr. Mosley had revived Sisypha, Johnny Fry’s evocative sex queen.

True to his storytelling style, Mr. Mosley taps into every type of character one would expect to find “in the business” – from benevolent pimp, to saint, to enforcer – often in the most unexpected manner. Many are signature Mosley: larger than life and full of passion, integrity and self-righteous conviction.

The setting for the writing of Debbie is a change from Mr. Mosley’s prior work, and he adeptly explores the humanity, and even the committed ethic, of those who work the business (they are, after all, in "film").  His characters are memorable, engaging and robust, and Mr. Mosley appears to revel in writing about "the trade". Yet, the story line occurs as repeated: Charles Blakely (The Man in the Basement) can’t hold a job, is financially dependent, and drinks too much. Cordell Carmel is reduced to rage and excitement while secretly watching his girlfriend being sexually ravaged by her other lover. Debbie asserts control and is financially independent but is, nevertheless, equally broken. The redemption trope, revisited.

Debbie brings a tidy, made-for-television close that will satisfy a reader, or not. Overall, a pleasing read for its craft; less so for its resolution. Somehow, Debbie’s wounds run deeper than human salvation alone provides.


Paris Hall is a Chicago-based educator.

Add a Comment

Black wavey line
© 2024 The Black Book Review Online. All Rights Reserved.