Saturday, February 13, 2010

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

Title: Doom Fox
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 into 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 fiction 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 who 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 Robert Lee Maupin in Chicago, Illinois, on August 4, 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)

With books such as Trick Baby, Pimp, and Long White Con, Iceberg Slim detailed life in the American ghetto and became one of the secret inventors of the concept of cool. Ignored by the mainstream literary world, advertised by word of mouth, his underground classics crystallized the mixture of attitude and artistry that is found everywhere from blaxploitation to Bad Lieutenant, punk to hip-hop.

Doom Fox -- written in 1978 and unpublished until now -- is the last in his legendary series. It is set in Los Angeles during the postwar decades and evokes a world of low-riding chippie-catchers, prizefighters, prostitutes, and smooth-talking, irreligious preachers. Propelled by the story of Joe Kong Allen and his gorgeous, treacherous wife, Doom Fox incorporates elements of sex comedy, prison literature, and street fiction. At its base, it is a dead-on exploration of the violent frustrations of life in a disenfranchised community.

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 authors today?

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