RL’s Dream opens with Atwater “Soupspoon” Wise, an old blues man, wracked with pain in his hip, his throat sore, making his way to his apartment in the East Village of New York City. Two young men come to evict Soupspoon, carrying him and his few belongings, including his red-enameled twelve-string Gibson guitar, out to the street.
As Soupspoon is being evicted, Kiki Waters, a twenty-something white woman from Arkansas, is on her way from the hospital to her East Village apartment, recovering from stab wounds inflicted by a black boy whom she stopped from attacking a schoolteacher. Randy, her sometimes boyfriend, helps her home.
At Kiki’s building, they find Soupspoon sitting on the street while men continue dumping his things. The pathetic sight of Soupspoon being treated with such disrespect infuriates Kiki, and she insists on taking him to her apartment, where she cleans him up and makes him tea, which he drinks while she eats and drinks whiskey.
The first three chapters introduce three of the main characters of the novel: Soupspoon, Kiki, and Randy, Kiki’s boyfriend who, with the help of his mother, has deceived himself into believing that he is not black. Race is a significant aspect of this novel. The other main character, who, although dead for fifty years and permeates Soupspoon’s existence and the novel, is RL Johnson, the famous Delta bluesman with whom Soupspoon traveled and played when he was young.
Although the novel is told primarily from the points of view of Soupspoon and Kiki, reminiscences and dreams of both Kiki and Soupspoon demonstrate how events in the past shape the present. These looks into the past allow Mosley to tell the story of the blues.
When young, both...
(The entire section is 721 words.)