Pimp: The Story of My Life

Pimp: The Story of My LifeThink of the worst crimes a person can commit murder, rape, child molestation, pandering drugs, torture, slavery It doesn t matter which of those you think might be worse than any other Take your pick And then consider The pimp engages in all those things They are, in fact, his routine.I picked this book up after having stumbled across the documentary Iceberg Slim Portrait of a Pimp produced by Ice T Here s the trailer film was interesting enough to get me to seek out the book if for no other reason than I was curious to see how a pimp might turn pulp novelist What it lead to was a book that has the ring of true crime novels plus the authenticity of the autobiography Which is not to say much for truth in either crime novels or autobiographies but of that in a bit.What kind of person could possibly be so loathsome as to become a pimp How could a person s humanity be warped to the point of victimizing women under the pretense of love and protection How could anyone have any sympathy for someone who engages in the most despicable crimes This book answers those questions because, in a surprisingly skillful way, the author, Iceberg Slim Robert Bobby Beck Robert Lee Maupin, gives humanity to the most inhuman of lifestyles I m going to give the author his pen name Iceberg Slim for the rest of this review A cycle of misogyny, sadism, masochism, self loathing and depravity are the mainstays of that existence, and they are portrayed with verisimilitude in this book The sins of the author are comprehended by readers, we even occasionally relate to them, because of the apparent self loathing and deep seated trauma in this case, Slim claims to have been molested as a child by a babysitter that is described as their original causal motive.Please note that I say verisimilitude not truth I sincerely doubt this book is a full and reliable accounting of his activities as a pimp The prose is far too much of a pulp novel hard boiled affectation to be truthful in any meaningful sense of that word In fact, that style of prose and the particulars that are given would appear in many cases to have lead to a misinterpretation of this book as an instruction manual rather than a cautionary tale, and the author himself warned against that reading later in his career In a scene portrayed in the aforementioned documentary In reality, there are no practical lessons on pandering sex to be learned in this book Despite that supposed reading by fans, I seriously doubt that it had a substantial effect on those who aspire to a criminal lifestyle Like any potboiler it is as much wish fulfillment as provocation Rather, the supposed style presented as the mystery and allure of the pimp is, no doubt, simply a cover for the underlying and constant violence or threat of violence that is the heart of the process It is the violence that is truly the method of a pimp The patter is just the veneer Learning about that veneer cannot truly prepare someone for a lifestyle filled with the most atrocious of crimes any than reading a book about the one inch punch will turn the reader into Bruce Lee.Nonetheless, the strength of this book is in that veneer voice Published as the paperback dime novel equivalent of black exploitation films, Iceberg Slim s story has a voice that compares to detective novels of the preceding decades As such, there is a considerable amount of sardonic humor, and even in the darkest of situations, the story is told with an almost nostalgic care Granted, the book uses the cant of the panderer and criminal underworld of black America in the 40s through the following decades, but readers of Raymond Chandler or even Dashiell Hammett will recognize the patter and meter, if not the prose and metalanguage, of the narration by Slim In fact, the book comes with a handy glossary in the back, apparently at the publishers insistence, which is itself fascinating to read It is interesting to see how much of the vocabulary that the author and publishers felt required a glossary when the book was published is part of the mainstream these days.Predictably, quite a bit of the language is sexist, racist or otherwise offensive, so if I might issue the most unnecessary warning in the history of Goodreads reviews this book contains many trigger words for some people.The general facts presented by Slim are likely true That is, where he says he was imprisoned and when we can probably believe However, it is the nature of that profession and the nature of a writer, as well as the nature of an autobiography to glorify the self in a way that is certainly deceptive Was Iceberg Slim molested by a religious nut babysitter when he was just little Bobby Maupin That s hard to say Even if one wants to believe the testimony of children in such a situation, one must temper that desire with the recognition that as Iceberg Slim he made his living as a depraved and drug addled liar whose every word was a rationalization of his own behavior That means that as a book it s a decent piece of work As a confession it is almost certainly not decent in any sense of that word In any case, I would recommend this book, but only to those with an interest in crime novels in the first place For anyone wanting to see a bit of the dark side, it can be found in this book, but I would sprinkle even that assessment with than a few grains of salt This is a cautionary tale, but it s one that ultimately ends in redemption It s debatable whether there really is redemption for someone whose life has been so dedicated to preying on others, and it s equally debatable whether a person who would so justify his past crimes with something like a tell all crime autobiography has done anything to merit it. Any good pimp is his own best company His inner life is so rich with cunning and scheming to out think his whoresIceberg Slim, Pimp The Story of My Life Iceberg Slim dances on that thread between unapologetic and remorseful He loves and hates his mama He loves and hates the game This isn t a book you read because you want eroticism This isn t Les Miserables There isn t much at the end that redeems the story or the storyteller HOWEVER, Iceberg Slim can write His narrative is sharp His stories are fascinating His impact is large Published in 1969, this book presented one hard, dark edge of black literature It wasn t James Baldwin for sure It shared with William Burroughs It somehow carved a bit of poetry out of depravity, misery and yearning It inspired writers, rappers, and comedians for generations Think of names like Ice T Ice Cube Think of acts like Richard Pryor and David Chappelle I had been aware of Iceberg Slim, but had never read him It was while watching Dave Chappelle s The Bird Revelation, however, when I decided I NEEDED to read Iceberg Slim sooner rather than later It was Chappelle who opened my eyes a bit to how understanding Slim s perspective on pimps and whores gave one a larger understanding of capitalism, power, and race in America So, I didn t need to enjoy this book to get something from it According to Robin D G Kelly, in her New Yorker profile of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim Pimp, Beck s most popular work, is also his least political. Best Books, Pimp The Story Of My Life Author Iceberg Slim This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book Pimp The Story Of My Life, Essay By Iceberg Slim Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You The thing about Robert Iceberg Slim Beck, the reason he is so magnetic, is that he is actually not the Iceberg he pretended to be In this memoir of his life on the streets, he revels in his successes but also agonizes over his failures He seems to tell us straight this worked, that didn t He concludes it is necessary to hide one s feelings behind an icy exterior, hiding his fear and doubt and empathy from his stable of whores and from other con men on the street who would double cross him Beck reminds us several times how close pimping is to slavery, and where the crass brutality of it came from The book of pimping was written in the skulls of proud slick Niggers freed from slavery They wasn t lazy They was puking sick of picking white man s cotton and kissing his nasty ass The slave days stuck in their skulls They went to the cities They got hip fast The conning bastard white man hadn t freed the niggers The cities were like the plantations down South Jeffing Uncle Toms still did all the white man s hard and filthy work.Those slick Nigger heroes bawled like crumb crushers They saw the white man just like on the plantations still ramming it into the finest black broads.The broads were stupid squares They still freaked for free with the white man They wasn t hip to the scratch in their hot black asses.Those first Nigger pimps started hipping the dumb bitches to the gold mines between their legs They hipped them to stick their mitts out for the white man s scratch The first Nigger pimps and sure shot gamblers was the only Nigger big shots in the country Slim introduces us to the slavery of the skin trade Not liking the choices he had for getting ahead, Slim decides he will pimp his way to some real white type living It is a soul crushing world of double cons and triple crosses and his first couple forays onto the streets bring him low But Slim sucks up to Sweet, a master who pimps by the book, and learns how to beat his whores into submission for the scratch they could earn.Robert Iceberg Slim Beck writes in street slang but also in full, richly detailed sentences, paragraphs, and chapters that draw us in and sketches for us his shaky beginnings and long affiliation with the whoring trade From time in the clink and from other street hustlers Berg learned the necessity of applying psychology to his treatment of his whores he used the oftentimes horribly broken life stories of the whores against them, and used bling and flash and cunning to dazzle his stable, their tricks, and his competition He noted his emotional reaction times also slowed considerably when he had a noseful of coke.But the beauty of this memoir is also in the writing Slim was in and out of prison from the time he was twenty In one of the best escape scenes I have ever encountered, Slim describes his jailbreak from one prison that crackles with tension and bravado We are aching for him to make it outside In the end, it is not Iceberg Slim s cold exterior that draws us to him but his vulnerability and susceptibility His humanity is the most endearing thing We have reason to hate this criminal and liar Perversely, however, we come to admire him for surviving, and persisting in learning every day He lets us in on those lessons It may be his best and longest con of all, and we re all his whores.A few weeks ago I reviewed Street Poison, the Biography of Iceberg Slim by Justin Gifford His introduction to Iceberg Slim led to my seeking out this memoir, first published in 1969 In a heartbreaking coda to Iceberg s vulnerability in learning the street game, this first book by Iceberg Slim had a wonky contract with the publisher that earned him little He did, however, gradually earn international recognition, and the style and naked honesty revealed in this book spawned a culture in music, film, and literature that persists to this day Years ago I d first seen this book at that time I believe it wore a shocking pink cover emblazoned with an eye popping silver scrawl There comes a time in a reading life when a book makes sense in the order of things The time had come for me I can promise you an unforgettable reading experience, and perhaps some insight into the life of one black man who believed his salvation lie on the street It is a cautionary tale, and a worthy memoir of a black man in a white world. Pimp is fantastic For about a decade now this has been one of my favorite books, and I don t see that changing any time soon Granted, I should immediately admit that I probably like this book for all the wrong reasons I m sure that the correct grounds for appreciating Pimp if such standards have been established are to ponder the struggles of the black man fighting to rise up in American society and to look at the infelicitous lot he s been subjected to and to carefully inspect the inherent disparities built into the system , which are broadly applied based solely on skin color I don t really care about all that mumbo jumbo, that garbage doesn t move me nor does it inspire any worthwhile thought on my behalf Hell, if anything, that crap pissed me off My enjoyment of Pimp is certainly less insightful and far puerile of an appreciation of the basest elements of the story Slim rapping about social injustice yawn Slim talking all raw to the bitches in his stable before putting a foot in their ass brilliant Slim trash talking some jive turkey far out That s right, Slim s badass rap has inspired me to use far out for the first time since 1988 I m going to need to justify that, so here s a little taste of Slim s masterful lambasting Listen square ass bitch, I have never had a whore I couldn t do without I celebrate, bitch, when a whore leaves me It gives some worthy bitch a chance to take her place and be a star You scurvy bitch, if I shit in your face you gotta love it and open your mouth wide I couldn t come up with anything remotely as solid in a hundred years With that sample alone, and considering that many rappers consider him an influence, it s no wonder the word bitch has enjoyed such proliferation in their craft Needless to say, if objectifying and degrading women bothers you, Pimp should probably be removed from your to read list The story chronicles the pimping exploits of Robert Beck in the American Midwest from the 1930s to the 1950s He starts off small time as Young Blood, but aspires to be the best damn pimp this world has ever seen All he has to do is learn the rules of the game from the current master, Chicago s alpha pimp, the badass Sweet Jones Sweet may be one of the most compelling and awesome figures in US History Before even being introduced to him, Slim gets the word on the street that Sweet is the best n gger pimp in the world, if they got n gger pimps in outer space he s the best of them too, he s lugging twenty G s and nobody is crazy enough to try heisting him, he croaks n ggers for recreation His stable reigns supreme, his bitches are obedient and focused on getting Sweet s ass some scratch, and there s only one bitch in the world he cares about, his ocelot, Miss Peaches That s right, the baddest, bigass stud in all of Chi town spends half his scratch on diamond necklaces and little knit sweaters for his darling feline Miss Peaches is one of the intriguing characters of the book as well, farting in public, chomping fried chicken, and staring punks and suckas down with a icy gaze After learning the subtle nuances of the pimping game from Sweet and his pal Glass Top , Slim experiences the ups and downs of the lifestyle he sought his bitches rat him out to the feds, he almost screws a tranny in a ridiculously hilarious scene, he gets swindled and conned, he swindles and cons, he batters his trollops, goes to prison several times, pulls a jailbreak, and discovers it s feast or famine in this cop blow game In spite of all the majesty within, there are a few negative elements The first issue is pretty inconsequential Slim doesn t spend a whole lot of time describing details of the environment or setting very well, usually you re lucky to get such scintillating descriptions like The sky was a fresh, bright bitch So when he does actually throw in something a bit beefier like the first April night had gone sucker and gifted her with a shimmering bracelet of diamond stars the fat moon lurked like an evil yellow eye staring down These few instances stick out like a sore thumb and seem like someone else added them during the editing process The larger issue I had was his rapping about being a black man in the white man s world and the hurdles this creates for him, which is probably the message of the book, but to me it was just an annoying interruption from his god like dispensation of wrath upon his various whores Call me whack, but in my humble opinion, the white man did put forth the effort to come to this new world and chase off those pesky redskin devils, which does seem to make it his world , and Slim isn t exactly making any strides towards establishing a better life for his peeps by pimping their asses on the street Lastly, I don t have enough fingers and toes to count the number the number of times he boasts about his alleged 175 I.Q, especially since he usually mentions it to show the shock of some peckerwood honky that some brother just duped him For a guy who is usually running on all 175 pistons he sure as hell makes plenty of stupid ass calls, and again, doesn t seem to realize that pimping his own people is probably why their lot in life isn t ideal he and his fellow whoremongers are doing harm than the white man would even bother to As a last note, I m not a fan of urban lit or anything minority inspired women s lit, gay lit, latino lit, etc as some attempt to broaden my horizons As a rule, if I pick up a book and see some glowing praise how it helped shape and define the struggles of the inuit aborigine future visitors from the solar system around Alcor my reaction will be similar to that of grabbing an electric eel Though I firmly embrace my narrow mindedness and ig nance, the fact I can still enjoy Pimp , even for all the wrong reasons, shows the power of Slim s daunting invective. On Proxenetism and Pandering as Metaphors for Book ReviewingFrom a feminist post colonial viewpoint, the activities of book reviewing and pimping have much in common Operating within a patriarchal structure, the reviewer pimp claims power over the essentially female text recall Derrida s useful concept of invagination , and offers it to the reader john as part of a quasi commercial transaction where he is paid with likes or comments Just as the pimp symbolizes dominance over his girls using clothes which present a distorted and masculinized view of their sexuality latex dresses, fishnet stockings, etc , the reviewer asserts hierarchic superiority over the text by structural transformations like parody, satire and use of absurd pseudo academic gibberish.To cut to the chase Frances, thank you for a wonderfully inappropriate present I will treasure it forever, though I am not quite sure I can guarantee that my camerawoman feels the same way. This is not a book you can like It is a repulsive book you can learn something from and hope desperately that conditions have changed since its publication You ll find cultural commentary and insights into the psyche, but you ll also find vile, unimaginable misogyny and disregard for humanity in general I suppose I learned something, but the urge to vomit accompanied that awful education Why the four stars, you say Old Iceberg Slim s tale, in the most for lack of any other way to say it yucky way, shows the tremendous and awful danger that occurs when the torments of anger and hatred rise above conscience and the most basic elements of human decency and actions. You can try to sanitize this book, as Ervine Welsh has done in the introduction, and treat it as report on the social conditions of the racist America of the 1940 s and 50 s and one Black man s attempt to break out of the cycle through the only way he found possible, blah blah blah I couldn t be bothered with any of this I picked up this book to read some cool pimp talk Pimp daddies and their bitches going about their binniz Mindless degenerate entertainment Like watching rap videos of the most debauched type There are passages in the book that satisfied my depraved expectations There are some funny pimp talk one liners, like I was busier than a whore on soldiers payday There s glossary at the end to help with the pimp lingo, in case you re not hip enough.After a while the book stops being entertaining and the writing starts to feel flat Worse, you can t ignore the fact that it s mostly a story of brutality and exploitation, and in the back of your mind you know you cannot justify it in spite of what the apologists tell you about racism It stops being funny when you get to the part where Iceberg Slim uncoils a wire coat hanger to beat up one of his whores, who is also Black I leave it to others to glorify this book Irvine Welsh calls Slim one of the most influential writers of our age Go figure I ll remember not to read anything by Welsh again. I bought this as an impulse purchase because it was displayed right next to the cash register at Shakespeare Co I d seen it in the AK Press catalog before, and that is probably what made me pick it up Pimp is entertaining in a kind of trashy way It s a biography about a part of life that many middle class suburban folks like me don t know anything about I have no idea how truthful the book is, or if it is sensationalism, or maybe even utter bullshit like those confessional books written for priveleged teen fucks such as Jay s Journal, or Go Ask Alice I don t even know why in my mind these books are all linked together in someway, maybe because of the voyeuristic thrill a reader would get I don t know They are all cautionary, and in that way they all fail, two of them because they are obviously bullshit, and this one because after reading it I m sure all the good stuff the author got out of being a pimp outweighs the awfulness that followed I imagine the reader who is setting out to follow in his pimping footsteps would also think he or she I guess, today girls can be anything they want, even pimps if they want, right wouldn t make Mr Slim s mistakes The one thing that I did learn from this book, and it s a lesson that will stay ingrained in my head for the rest of my life is that even the freakiest bitch don t like to be hit with a wire coat hanger that s been twisted into a metal whip Even if the woman likes being smacked around, being beaten with the coat hanger will set her straight straight meaning here spread her legs willingly for you, and then spread them for money which she will then give to you without cheating you of any of it I will never forget this lesson, and I m sure one day I ll be old and senile, and people I have known for years will come visit me and I ll no idea who they are, and if I have grandchildren I won t know there names, but I will pull them close to me and tell them what to do with freaky bitches who won t do what they are told, and I hope when this day comes my family will find it cute, but they will probably just hate me and wish I was dead. Iceberg Slim didn t invent the great American pimp archetype in 1969 but he codified it, he exposed it to mass culture, so he s an influential writer Everything from Slick Rick to blaxploitation to the pathetic pickup artist scene owes a debt to him So when Robin Kelley writes for the New Yorker, I m always amazed when I encounter well read people unfamiliar with Iceberg Slim, I kinda get it But then, does influence equal value I mean, is this a good book Are you going to like it It s not terribly pleasant to read For one thing, it uses unfamiliar slang than A Clockwork Orange You re gonna need the glossary in the back, or a jive translator For another, the things it describes are unpleasant Its narrator, who is or less actually Iceberg Slim, has a dim opinion of women He does bad things to them That s an understatement.He is somewhat repentant Borrowing a trope from Fanny Hill and Vanity Fair, he presents Pimp as a cautionary tale, and unlike those two books he seems to mean it he doesn t glorify his life Much Big Daddy Kane s mileage apparently varied.The book competently follows your basic biopic plot arc Naive youngster learns the game rises to the top of the game hubris fall wisdom The other way these stories end is the Scarface way, but since this is a memoir you already know that s not happening There s a noir influence She was brown skin murder in a size twelve dress There are some trenchant and self aware points made about what it means for a black man to pimp a black woman to a white man So, is it good Sortof, sure It does a good job of being what it is It is well written.So this ends up sortof in the same department as Ulysses It s influential and effective, but you re unlikely to enjoy the actual experience of reading it The account of my brutality and cunning as a pimp will fill many of you with revulsion, says Slim, showing, as he often does, remarkable perception.

Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born as Robert Lee Maupin Novelist and poet whose most famous novel, Pimp, is semi autobiographical.

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  • 19 December 2018

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