Reviews for Pimping Fictions : African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing

Choice Reviews 2013 August
Gifford (Univ. of Nevada, Reno) aims to inject greater awareness of black crime fiction into the history of African American cultural production, and his analyses of Chester Himes, Robert Beck, Donald Goines, and Players magazine fulfill that ambition. His book clarifies this popular yet understudied topic, and investigates the careers of Charlie Avery Harris, Amos Brooke, Omar Fletcher, Joseph Nazel, and Odie Hawkins. These less familiar writers contribute to the black talent pool at Holloway House, a publishing company started in 1959 by two white men, Bentley Morriss and Ralph Weinstock. By tracing interactions between minority authors and a niche publisher, Gifford suggests that pimping not only identifies a literary theme but also an artist's situation. His research joins critical work that reads black creativity as a reaction to social circumstances and sociological narratives. Through examinations that span the 1950s to the present, he illustrates that black crime literature offers textured responses to white attempts at containing black experiences. The author ends his study with an analysis of Vickie Stringer and black female street fiction. His conclusions suggest that a genre defined by its working-class readership illuminates hidden pivots in black life. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. M. D. Hill University of Iowa Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #4

The ambiguous title of University of Nevada-Reno English professor Gifford's groundbreaking study of the "art and business of black crime literature" is ingenious in its embrace of elements of street literature from historical and literary perspectives along with the culture of the writers who produce it, the commercial enterprises that publish it, and the "white-controlled spaces" they occupy and must negotiate. Chronologically structured, Gifford pays particular attention to Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, Joseph Nazel, Players magazine, and the emergence of women writers like Vickie Stringer and Sister Souljah whose female protagonists can "con, exploit, and outfox their male and female rivals." Providing counterpoint to analyses of creative productions, Gifford attends to two divergent milieus. At one end are America's black prisoners, those within and the alums who are historically the writers and the consumers; at the other, the publishing industry, with particular focus on the rise and decline of Holloway House (the creation of two white Hollywood publicists) and the growth of self-publishing and independent black imprints. In exploring how these writers, little noticed by academia or mainstream media, negotiate the connection between white-controlled spaces in urban centers, prisons, and publishing, Gifford makes a persuasive case for their importance. 9 b&w illus. Agent: Matthew Carnicelli, Carnicelli Literary Management. (Feb.)

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