Donald Goines (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Donald Goines books were introduced to me five years ago, and I am captivated by his personalized admission of his own insecurities and shame of not being able to leave the drug game behind to focus on all other aspects of the culture. If you have never read a Donald Goines book, be advised no topic is overlooked. He takes your mind to the depravity that haunts you in your nightmares.
The protagonist in his novels are a little too real…
Could he have been too real to the dealers and hustlers in the neighborhood? Sometimes a fictional character can be a carbon copy of the man down the street. In a sense this could have caused his demise, because some of his novels were written behind bars. Could they have assumed he was snitching? Yes, he could have assumed that he world knew he was discussing to create a buzz for his books?
“Donald Goines was born in Detroit to a relatively comfortable family – his parents, Joseph and Myrtle Goines, owned a local dry cleaner, and he did not have problems with the law or drugs. The children occasionally helped at the shop. Goines attended Catholic elementary school and was expected to go into his family’s laundry business. Instead Goines enlisted in the US Air Force, and to get in he had to lie his age. From 1952 to 1955 he served in the army. During this period he got hooked on heroin. When he returned to Detroit from Japan, he was a heroin addict.
The next 15 years from 1955 Goines spent pimping, robbing, stealing, bootlegging, and running numbers, or doing time. His seven prison sentences totaled 6,5 years. While in jail in the 1960s he first attempted to write Westerns without much success – he loved cowboy movies. A few years later, serving a different sentence at a different prison, he was introduced to the work of Iceberg Slim (Robert Beck). Before his release, Goines finished two books, Dopefiend (1971) and the semi-autobiographical Whoreson (1972). The latter novel was a story about the son of a prostitute who becomes a Detroit ghetto pimp. Also Beck’s first book, Pimp: The Story of My Life (1967), was autobiographical. Goines was released in 1970, after which he wrote 16 novels with Holloway House, Iceberg Slim’s publisher. Hoping to get rid of surroundings – he was back on smack – he moved with his family to the Los Angeles ghetto of Watts.”-A.L. Clarke
Imagine someone so horrific that to get out of their hood, he forged a birth certificate at 14 Years Old, just to join the air force. Donald knew he wanted to escape from the horrors of the hood. Donald leaving the hood was a gift and a curse. He became addicted to Heroine at 15 years old. By that time, he was still reading and embracing the writings of Iceberg Slim, but he couldn’t quite kick that habit. So when he came back from War, his Heroine War still existed. He went to jail repeatedly and joined the Crime Underworld.
People will try to escape waiting to hand him that street work, but he pimped, and hustled.
Donald in the end met the characters in his book and dealt with so many that he became too real for his audience.
When you write fiction about the Street Life, that fiction was not comfort to the end. When he was murdered with his common law wife, it could have been a drug deal gone bad? Some believe his realistic books labeled him an information.
He repeatedly entered jail, and wrote books while behind bars.
In the hood, if someone is regularly arrested, but always get back out, they can be labeled as a snitch. Donald’s stories were too descriptive, that local criminals believed that he was talking about them,even if his books are considered fiction.
Donald and his girlfriend were both shot and killed together. No one knows who murdered them.
When you assume that the hood does not destroy you, you underestimate the common link of failure and destruction. The game will lead to riches,but you never know who will set you up, or try to rob you of your riches.
The real understand that the game may lead to fame,but to make it you have to stay away from that stage. It is so easy to lay down with fleas and want to be seen and to turn off the rest of the world, but only for the lost. The Real understand…