Re: RARA-AVIS: _Pimp_

Mark Sullivan (
Tue, 11 May 1999 19:51:10 -0400 (EDT) I read Pimp a long time ago and don't really want to read it again. Not
usually given to PC attitudes, I must admit I had some trouble with
Slim's take on women. And for all of his Victorian novel conversion at
the end, his opinion of women never changed, as can be seen in the
introduction to Long White Con, among other places. The roots of the
pimp's "superiority over women" is exposed in Slim's recording
Reflections -- his rhymes on women's genitals (veering very close to
vagina dentata) and power over men, makes you wonder if he might not be
hiding some fear.

Just as I prefer those few DePalma films where his fear of women does
not become embarrassing, I liked Slim's two books with White Folks
(granting I'm a sucker for any book about a con man) much better. First
of all, Slim's writing improved which each book he wrote. Second, in
these two books (Trick Baby and Long White Con) about a black con man
who can pass for white, Slim makes a better argument about the limited
options for a black man, basically entertainment or crime. And how,
after setting up the whole system against the black man, the system
cries foul when he ignores the rules and follows the latter path.

All in all, though, I think Nathan Heard dealt with these same issues --
pimps, con men, etc. -- better in Howard Street, which I can't recommend
highly enough. It was once described as what you would get if "Hubert
Selby, Jr, were black and writing for Holloway House."

I'll probably read more books by Iceberg Slim, have several on my shelf,
but I think I'll read some more Chester Himes first.

One thing I've never understood, though, is why Andrew Vachss dedicated
Shella to Iceberg Slim (along with Doc Pomus). Isn't Slim guilty of
capitalizing on the by-product of the child abuse Vachss has dedicated
his life to fighting?


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