Share for friends:

Pimp: The Story Of My Life (2002)

Pimp: The Story of My Life (2002)

Book Info

4.48 of 5 Votes: 2
Your rating
0862415934 (ISBN13: 9780862415938)
payback pr

About book Pimp: The Story Of My Life (2002)

“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.tMy enjoyment of “Pimp” is certainly less insightful and far more puerile; more 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.tI’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.tThe 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 more intriguing characters of the book as well, farting in public, chomping fried chicken, and staring punks and suckas down with a icy gaze.tAfter 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.ttIn 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 more harm than the white man would even bother to.tAs 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.

Think 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 more 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 more 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 40's 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 more 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.

Do You like book Pimp: The Story Of My Life (2002)?

It's been years since I've had such difficulty reading or rating a book. The content discomfited me, and maybe that isn't a bad thing? I'm still not certain how to interpret my feelings. I was reluctant to read this book. But I knew it would shove me outside my comfort zone, and expose me to an alternative perspective of which I feel ignorant. In the preface, Iceberg Slim addresses his motivations for writing this autobiography.In this book I will take you, the reader, with me into the secret inner world of the pimp. I will lay bare my life and thoughts as a pimp. The account of my brutality and cunning as a pimp will fill many of you with revulsion, however, if one intelligent, valuable young man or woman can be saved from the destructive slime; then the displeasure I have given will have been outweighed by that individual’s use of his potential in a socially constructive manner. (Slim)It was helpful to keep this mission statement in mind as I traversed the narrative. Slim writes in an honest and brutal voice. He carves a raw and vivid image of racism and misogyny in the early to mid twentieth century America. Upon completion, I reflected on the above rationale, and felt torn. I want to believe what the preface states, I really do. And maybe Slim writes in such a manner to place the onus of deriving his sentiments of regret squarely upon the reader. The preface leads me to believe that Slim does possess compunction, but within the narrative's main current, I can't honestly point to anything that supports this notion. I'm torn because I can't decide whether I think Slim wrote this book to flip a quick buck, or if he really does wish to be a positive influence. Ultimately, I leave feeling angry, frustrated, and sad. The audiobook was interesting. Cary Hite is the narrator. I've never heard Hite read before, and he does an amazing job. Holy shit, Hite sounds so much like Samuel L. Jackson circa Pulp Fiction that I kept expecting him to comment on burgers and bible verses. I didn't like the sound effects that were scattered throughout this audiobook. They ranged from the pattering of falling rain to a telephone ringing, and even the simulated sound of a woman being beaten. I found it disturbing, distracting, and offensive. They just felt awkward, and grossly out of place.
—Casey Hampton

This is one of those cult books that I've known about for a long time but never gotten around to reading. I actually listened to the audio version--which really takes it to another level as you can imagine if you are familiar with it. This book is not for the politically correct or the sensitive, as Iceberg Slim unleashes many ribald stories about his time spent as a criminal, street hustler & pimp in the 1940s and 1950s. There's violence, sex, drugs, misogyny & nearly all of it is vastly entertaining! It does get a bit numbing by the end but Pimp is an incredible glimpse into a world I'll never step into. Another great thing about this book--the slang. I heard so many phrases & words I have never heard before--not any I am going to put into my everyday vocabulary, but it added to the atmosphere and the spice. Pimp is for adventurous people into cult books...if you are easily offended, you might want to avoid this one.

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.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Iceberg Slim

Other books in category Humor