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Robert Beck was born in Chicago in 1918. In the late 1930s, he briefly attended Tuskegee Institute before he was expelled for bootlegging. (Author Ralph Ellison was a student at Tuskegee at the same time, but there is no indication the two ever met.) Upon his return to Chicago, Beck began another phase of his education under the tutelage of street hustlers on the South Side. Robert Beck became "Iceberg Slim" and made his living as a pimp. In 1960, after three decades on the street and a ten-month stint in solitary confinement in Cook County Jail, Slim was convinced it was time to retire.

Slim left Chicago for Los Angeles where he worked a number of odd jobs. There he met a college professor who was fascinated by his background and suggested they collaborate on a book about his life. When Slim learned he would receive only a small part of the proceeds, the former hustler refused to be hustled. He decided to write his own story, which was accepted and published by Holloway House. Published in 1967, Pimp: The Story of My Life was the first-person account of Robert Beck's 30-year-career in the street flesh trade.

The subject and title were too unsavory for mainstream America. The New York Times refused the publisher's advertising, and there were only a handful of curious mentions printed in media. Pimp fit uneasily in the "Black is Beautiful" climate of the times, but held its own. The book developed an underground following, and Iceberg Slim became something of a cult figure.

The Collected Works of Iceberg Slim

The following titles have been reissued in mass market paperback for $6.99 each by Holloway House.

Pimp: The Story of My Life (first published in 1967, ISBN 0-870-67979-1)

Trick Baby (first published in 1967, ISBN 0-870-67977-5)

Mama Black Widow (first published in 1969, ISBN 0-870-67975-9)

The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim (first published in 1971, ISBN 0-870-67998-8)

Death Wish (first published in 1976, ISBN 0-870-67978-3)

Long White Con (first published in 1977, ISBN 0-870-67974-0)

Airtight Willie & Me (first published in 1979, ISBN 0-870-67976-7)

DONALD GOINES (1937-1974)

Donald Goines was born in Detroit between 1935 and 1937. (The exact date is disputed because Goines used false documents in order to enlist in the military.) He dropped out of high school and joined the Air Force, where he served in the Korean War as an ambulance driver. During a tour of duty in Japan, Goines began his lifelong addiction to heroin.

After the war, he returned home and immediately engaged in various criminal activities to support his heroin habit. Goines was arrested several times during a fifteen-year period. He began to write Westerns during his stint in Jackson State Prison in Michigan. Goines abandoned the cowboy genre after a fellow inmate introduced him to the work of Iceberg Slim. When he finished the manuscript for what was to become Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp, he submitted it to Holloway House, the same company that published Iceberg Slim.

The publisher requested more, and Goines completed Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie, which was released first. Writing to support his habit, Goines completed sixteen novels--including the Kenyatta series which was written under the pseudonym Al C. Clark. With the advent of blaxploitation films, Goines moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the movie industry and to his publisher. In California, he tried unsuccessfully to overcome his addiction. He and his wife returned to Michigan and were both shot to death in 1974. The authorities suspect their deaths were either drug related or a botched robbery attempt, but the murders have never been solved.

The Collected Works of Donald Goines

Mass-market paperbacks reissued by All American Distributors Group for $6.99 each.

Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie (first published in 1971, ISBN 0-970-67995-3)

Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp (first published in 1972, ISBN 0-870-67994-5)

Black Gangster (first published in 1972, ISBN 0-870-67992-9)

Black Girl Lost (first published in 1973, ISBN 0-870-67988-0)

White Man's Justice, Black Man's Grief (first published in 1973, ISBN 0-870-67885-X)

Cry Revenge! (first published in 1974, Holloway House Originals; ISBN 0-870-67991-0)

Daddy Cool (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67877-9)

Eldorado Red (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67996-1)

Never Die Alone (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67997-X)

Swamp Man (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67993-7)

From the Kenyatta series, written under the pseudonym Al C. Clark:

Crime Partners (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67881-7)

Death List (first published in 1974, ISBN 0-870-67990-2)

Kenyatta's Escape (first published in 1974 ISBN 0-870-67883)

Kenyatta's Last Hit (first published 1975, ISBN 0-870-67989-9)

Inner City Hoodlum (first published 1975, Holloway House, ISBN 0-870-67999-6)

Also check out: Donald Writes No More: A Biography of Donald Goines by Eddie Stone All American Distributors, 1996, $4.95 ISBN 0-870-67968-6
COPYRIGHT 2001 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001

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