Re: RARA-AVIS: "Passing" onto Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines

Dave (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 10:41:50 -0800 I'm glad you mentioned "Trick Baby," which, I believe, is one of the
earlier appearances of "passing" in hard-boiled literature. It's a dark
and powerful read, written with passion and panache.

Iceberg Slim, (Robert Beck) one of the first popular black "street"
authors, is due for a major rediscovery. His voice is so authentic,
since he was a pimp himself, and he knew the life. His slang and
language are incomparable, and his characters are truly dripping with
oil. Very different from Chester Himes, who, believe it or not, is a
helluvalot more literary. Iceberg Slim, (or at least his publisher
Hollaway House touted) was read widely by blacks in the fifties and

The heir to Slim was Donald Goines, a pimp and junkie who churned out a
remarkable amount of grim and gripping street novels. The first were
autobiographical -- "Dopefiend" and "Whoreson," which are without a
doubt more hardboiled and hardcore than anything ever mentioned on this
list. Yeah, they're sordid -- but their craft, economy and authenticity
are undeniable. Believe me, they'll keep you up at night. One of my
favorites is "White Man's Justice, Black Man's Grief," Goines
"indictment" of the prison system. Goines was murdered mysteriously,
(drug related) around '74.

One of the things I love about the whole experience of Slim and Goines
is that for years, you could only buy them at your local NEWSTAND, which
were always well stocked with these Hollaway House editions! They were
truly "street," virtually unknown by book retailers. Now, I'm sure you
can order them through Amazon.

Maybe we all should read one of these. I guarantee you, they make
Chandler, Hammett and the rest of the boys read like candy.


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