Saturday, February 6, 2010

Urban Fiction - Feature Author's February - Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines

Title: Mama Black Widow
Author: IceBerg Slim
Genre: Urban Fiction

I was first introduced to Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines books as a teenager. When I read the books based on their lives, I was shocked. The language was a true reflection of the life they lead. In my opinion, IceBerg Slim and Donald Goines were the original writers of the Urban Fiction Genre, although that term came in existence much later. Their writings are very gritty and give readers a glimpse into the dark life of pimpdom and ghetto life. It has been such a long time since I read either of these authors, but I wanted everyone to take a look back in time during African-American History Month and read some true original urban fictions books that are a part of the African-American culture and experience. If you have not read either of these authors, you are in for a shock. Many of the urban authors that write today glamorize the “hood life,” but these two authors show the darker side and leave nothing to the imagination.

Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born as Robert Lee Maupin in Chicago, Illinois on August 4th, 1918. He spent much of his childhood in Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois before returning to Chicago as a teenager.

His father having abandoned them, Slim's mother supported the family by working as a domestic and operating a beauty shop. He credits his mother for having prepared him for the pimp lifestyle by pampering him during his childhood.

At 18, Robert began his initiation into the life, adopting his nom de guerre, Iceberg Slim and remained a pimp until age 42, predominantly in the Chicago area. He was incarcerated several times in conjunction with his crimes. It was this last stretch at the Cook County house of Corrections that finally motivated Iceberg to square up, and take to writing about his life experiences rather than pursuing a life of crime. Iceberg Slim passed away April 28, 1992 at age 73. (Retrieved popsubculture.com 1/31/10)

Mama Black Widow is the nickname of Otis Tilson, a comely and tragic black queen adrift with his brothers and sisters in the dark ghetto world of pimpdom and violent crime. His story is told in the gut-level language of the homosexual underworld--an unforgettable testament of life lived on the margins of a racist and predatory urban hell.

Have you read any of Iceberg Slims’ books? If so, let us know what you think of this author. Do you find his books to be more real than the Urban Fiction books of today and how do you think his writing inspired the writings of author's today?

1 comment:

N.S. Ugezene said...

I was reading "Long White Con." IceBerg Slim was able to balance grit with sophistication. His novels have upscale things in them but the dialogue is raw. He definitely did great things to bring about urban fiction. For me, as an an author of urban fiction, I am grateful for IceBerg Slim and Donald Goines. I would have liked to meet both of them. They paved the way for me and all the other urban fiction authors.

N.S. Ugezene