Re: RARA-AVIS: Donald Goines

From: David Wright (
Date: 25 Mar 2004

     As a librarian in a large urban library, I can attest to the popularity of writers like Goines and Slim, as well as newer titles by Sister Souljah, Terri Woods, Sheri Holmes, and others, among a large group of readers who seem more grouped by socioeconomic status - class - than by race or sex. If I may be permitted a bit of literary profiling, these readers, many of whom have been through the system or know folks who have, also enjoy Mario Puzo and other organized crime writers, as well as true crime, and also tend have a pointed interest in: Sidney Sheldon! - men, too. They are often interested in learning about what are to them lesser known writers from the past, such as Himes and Clarence Cooper Jr., as well as folks like John Ridley or Gary Phillips. We never seem to have enough titles to meet the needs of this readership, which lately has grown with interest from many younger readers from all walks, brought in via hip-hop culture, and I sometimes scratch my head at how sparse the trickle of new titles is.
     Yet the bookstore respondent makes a good point - we also face the same issue - Goines and Slim suffer astonishingly high loss. We don't expect many circulations out of these cheap pulp products - maybe 10 or so before they fall apart
- but they rarely make it past 2 or 3 before they find there get boosted. I have written a few Donald Goines 'readalike' lists - you can find one on our library's website at - and against my better nature I do wince when I put one of these out there, as I just know that I'm increasing the odds we'll lose everything on the list. Someone needs to cultivate this genre as true pulp culture, and come out with a periodical devoted to street fiction.

===== David Wright - Seattle Public Library Fiction Dept.
"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity."
                 -G.K. Chesterton

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