1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 123 and 124: Black Gangster and Street Players, by Donald Goines

The beautiful thing about a Donald Goines novel is that it is unabashedly raw. They are like photographs of the American dream taken from the gutter of the Detroit ghetto. There are a group of people who did not have access to the pristine American dream as it was sold to white, middle-class America in the 60‘s and 70‘s, and for those people capitalism is about selling the products they have: drugs and women. In Black Gangster, Goines illustrates that dispels the commonly held view that Blacks criminals are simply unorganized thugs by painting the picture of an ambitious, organized crime family. They aren’t gangstas, or thugs. They are on a par with the mafia. They are organized. Smart. Ambitious. But Goines doesn’t romanticize the criminal life. High gains come with high risks and most of the protagonists either end up dead or in prison. It is much the same in Street Players. One is inclined to envy the power and influence that a pimp has over the beautiful women in their lives, but just as is the case with each of his novels, Goines paints a brutal picture of the life that is sometimes glorified in other works. There is not room for Julia Roberts Richard Gear in Goines’s novel. The hooker with the heart of gold doesn’t end up with a millionaire, she ends up crying over the headless corpse of her pimp. With his work, criminal life is portrayed as it happens. In one of the more brutal scene a john assaults the sex worker he hired, biting off her nipple and chewing it in his mouth like gum as he fatally stabs her. There is a brutal ending for most of the characters in this novel. Goines may not be able to write a sentence as beautifully as William Faulkner, but his words are just a potent.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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