Talking about his work and reading from his eagerly anticipated new collection
Tuesday 1 1th June at Assembly. Rooms
£3 (£1 on the book on the night) Available from all Edinburgh branches
SIGNED COPIES WILL BE AVAILABLE
Putting the names of neglected black American writers up in lights is Payback Press, writes Damien Love. Additional material by Ann Donald.
Scottish ptrblishing house Canongate is continuing its remit of spreading the word on the enduring and often uncredited influence of black culture. lts Payback Press fiction list highlights the work of several seminal Afro- .»\merican authors. whose work has remained criminally hard to get hold of in this country until now.
While there are as tnany themes and styles as there are featured authors in the Payback Press list. the hard-boiled nature of much of the work. along with the uncompromising subject matters. provide it with some degree of unity —- the streets pulse through the words. As Ice-T comments in his introduction to Iceberg Slim‘s Pimp. these books keep it real.
Iceberg Slim the street name of Robert Beck. Pimp (£5.99) charts his rises and falls along the path out of the ghetto and into the big-league as a pimp enjoying serious success. Trick Ila/2y (£5.99) tells the story of a light—skinned black hustler able to pass himself off as a white. The real-life characters who populate Slim's writing are aware that there are very few options open to them for making it legitimately in a white world. and they do what they have to in order to survive and prosper. Beck's writing neither condones nor condemns the way of life it portrays. simply tells it like it was/is. and. as lee-T observes in his introduction. the very fact that these books exist proves something constructive can be born out of such experience.
Chester Himes whose early novels were raging. largely autobiographical works about what it meant being black in the States in the first part of the century. Self-exiled to France and in need of money. he agreed to turn out a series of detectiye stories set in Harlem. Since these books were written to be
Iceberg Slim: out of the ghetto and into the big league
easily and quickly translated into French. the stories were told in a sparse manner. moy ing at great pace. lltll'lr'nl (‘yr‘lr' l'nl / (£6.99) gathers together llimes's novels :l lx’ugr' In Harlem. The Real ('rml Killers and llH’ ('ritry Kill. The sociological critique of .-\mcrica is implicit. wrapped yy ithin great pieces of detective fiction.
Clarence Cooper Jr \y'ltosc final war-ti. lllt’ l’iirm (£5.99). is the most experimental piece of writing on the list. Written from the perspectiye of a mind trapped within the skull of a man in jail. this is a dense. unflinching book. with touches at times Burroughsian.
Charles Perry whose only noy'el was I’M/mil (2/ A Young Man Drowning (£6.99). lt paints an extremely disturbing picture of a confused youth being sucked helplesst straight along the path that leads to the underworld and murder.
Herbert Simmons who made his name 40 years ago with a pri/c-w inning debut noyel ('ornr'r lluy t £5.99). The book follows lake .-\dam.s. an cightcen~ year-old laydee/ man partial to Slim Jim ties. l)i/ (iillespic and his Buick Dynallow Simmons's hero is an assured character. his own man among the crowd. carving out a duckingand- diving path through the pool halls. pills. jil/J. clubs. 'babys' and enemies until ‘outside forces“ disturb the carefully maintained equilibrium of his life and the cool corner boy is detoured llo not be misled into any false ideas of ‘cliche crime ghetto' nonsense this is a superior and intoxicating portrait of a young black man in the ﬁlls, Simmons‘s prose is as taut as Ty son's belly and as inspirineg original as .\liles "l‘he Man With The llorn' l)ayis.
85 The List 31 May-l3 Jun 1min