The Biography of Iceberg SlimBook - 2015
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.
From the critics
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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)
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)
No con misses his freedom more than a pimp. His senses are addicted to silky living. (p. 117)
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