Saturday, August 08, 2015

What is Justin Gifford reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Justin Gifford, author of Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim.

From his entry:
I recently began a new expedition to uncover the hidden life of another outlandish figure of African American culture, Frank Yerby. Though most people have never heard of Yerby, he is the bestselling black American author in history with 33 books and over 60 millions copies of his novels sold. A contradictory and colorful personality, Yerby started out as writer of political fiction alongside Richard Wright in the 1940s, but then baffled black critics when he abandoned his protest work and started writing Southern historical romances in the style of Gone With the Wind. He enraged them further when he...[read on]
About Street Poison, from the publisher:
The first and definitive biography of one of America’s bestselling, notorious, and influential writers of the twentieth century: Iceberg Slim, nĂ© 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.
Learn more about Street Poison at the publisher's website.

My Book, The Movie: Street Poison.

Writers Read: Justin Gifford.

--Marshal Zeringue