Street Poison

Street Poison

The Biography of Iceberg Slim

Book - 2015
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The first and definitive biography of one of America's bestselling, notorious, and influential writers of the twentieth century: Iceberg Slim, né Robert Beck, author of the multimillion-copy memoir  Pimp  and such equally popular novels as  Trick Baby  and  Mama Black Widow . From a career as a, yes, ruthless pimp in the '40s and '50s, Iceberg Slim refashioned himself as the first and still the greatest of "street lit" masters, whose vivid books have made him an icon to such rappers as Ice-T, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg and a presiding spirit of "blaxploitation" culture. You can't understand contemporary black (and even American) culture without reckoning with Iceberg Slim and his many acolytes and imitators.

Literature professor Justin Gifford has been researching the life and work of Robert Beck for a decade, culminating in  Street Poison , a colorful and compassionate biography of one of the most complicated figures in twentieth-century literature. Drawing on a wealth of archival material--including FBI files, prison records, and interviews with Beck, his wife, and his daughters--Gifford explores the sexual trauma and racial violence Beck endured that led to his reinvention as Iceberg Slim, one of America's most infamous pimps of the 1940s and '50s. From pimping to penning his profoundly influential confessional autobiography,  Pimp , to his involvement in radical politics, Gifford's biography illuminates the life and works of one of American literature's most unique renegades.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385538343
Branch Call Number: 813.54 GIF
Characteristics: xxi, 265 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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ellensix Oct 06, 2015

I only wish I had understood my potential when I was younger, because my mind was unfettered with criminal intent. You see, when a young individual has not become street poisoned -- in other words, he has not devoted all his intellectual energies to becoming a pimp, for instance, or to becoming a stuck-up man-- then he can use his mind constructively. But, when a young mind has been street poisoned , the individual can think of nothing else but his own particular chosen criminal pursuit. (p. 23)

ellensix Oct 06, 2015

Whether he was writing about sex workers, heroin junkies, convicts, pimps, or black revolutionaries, Goines represented black working-class Detroiters in the 1950s as flawed but sympathetic heroes struggling against the overwhelming forces of racial and gender oppression and urban violence. (p. 127)

ellensix Oct 06, 2015

No con misses his freedom more than a pimp. His senses are addicted to silky living. (p. 117)


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