Re: RARA-AVIS: Goines/Born in a Mighty Bad Land

Date: 21 Jul 2003

> Jordan wrote:
> Long-time lurker here. I just read Jerry Bryant's "'Born in a Mighty Bad Land': The Violent Man in African American Folklore and Fiction". It is an excellent book, but it gave me a hankering to pick up the rest of Donald Goines' books that I don't have. Any suggestions on the cheapest way to go
> (I only have 4 of the 16). I will also buy the 2 Iceberg Slim books I don't have.
> Bryant's book has a chaper entitled "Toast Novels", which discusses Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim. He also has a chapter on Chester Himes (I have his entire Harlem cycle courtesy of Payback Press).
> *********
> Bryant's book sounds interesting. I have looked at American folklore for its impact on the hardboiled and noir genres. The desire to root a lot of folklore in fact is common. Most of it is questionable, but the search for the real John Henry looked pretty interesting. I was disappointed to find
> the characters I remember from childhood, like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Pete, demoted into mere tall tales by a lot of folklore experts.
> I didn't care for Iceberg Slim's PIMP, but I've got Goines's WHORESON on the shelf waiting on me and I have higher hopes for it. Charles Willeford writes about Chester Himes in his New Forms of Ugly, spending as much time discussing THE PRIMITIVE as any other book in the essay.
> If you have the time and inclination, write some more about the Bryant book. Who are some of the characters he writes about? Does he have some "big picture" theory? Are some of the folk tales imported from Africa? Also, can you recommend any good books on American (United States) folklore in
> general?
> Thanks, miker

Hi Miker,

Mark beat me to the punch with Stagoolee Shot Billy - an excellent book. As for Born in a Mighty Bad Land, he deals with the postbellum period and after, so he doesn't deal with the African origin. He discusses the evolution of the archetype with the change of society. He does talk about in detail, among others: Stagolee, John Hardy, Dupree, Lazarus, James Corrothers' Sandy Jenkins, Rudolph Fisher's Joshua Jones, Arna Bontemps' Lil' Augie, Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas, James Baldwin's John Grimes, Ralph Ellison's Rinehart, Chester Himes' Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones, Walter Mosley's Socrates, Mouse, and Easy Rawlins; John Edgar Wideman's Tommy Lawson, and Toni Morrison's Cholly Breedlove, Ajax, William Green, etc. As for folklore books, I don't know what would be good very general books. I have focused on African American, oral, and supernatural folklore and legends. I list some books on African American folklore on my site at!
.html . Feel free to ask me other questions on folklore...


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