No Trivia

No Trivia Book Club: The Year of Goines.


So, I thought about putting up a kind of obnoxious message about how the “New Year’s resolution” for everybody reading and writing about rap on the internets should be some attempt to at least like, foster discussion?

And then it seemed wiser to create something or another that might facilitate discussion instead of simply demanding it.

The result is gonna be a book club. All during the upcoming year, I’m going to read every novel by “street fiction” originator Donald Goines and at the end of each month (ideally, the final week day of whatever month it is), post some kind of fairly in-depth essay about each book. The comments section will ideally be a place for people to discuss the month’s book and if anyone wants to contribute more notable pieces about any of the books, they can do that too. They can be posted here or linked here, if you want to use your own blog to post your thoughts.

But real quick–some stuff about Goines: Was a pimp and a junkie, along with Iceberg Slim pretty much established Holloway House as a publisher and developed the current craze that is “street fiction”, was shot dead at his typewriter, is idolized by tons of rappers (personal fave lyrical reference here) and most importantly, is still kinda slept-on as an author of a whole bunch of deeply compelling work.

If you want to read-up on dude a bit more, do not, I repeat do not consult Eddie Stone’s Donald Writes No More. Do go find a cheap copy of Eddie B. Allen Jr.’s Low Road: The Life & Legacy of Donald Goines though, but only a cheap copy because even Allen’s book isn’t a masterpiece, but it does provide you with Goines’ life story and some terse but effective criticism of the novels. All Goines’ novels are relatively easy to find, relatively easy to read, and all will run you like $7 or $8 bucks new.

Below you’ll find a “syllabus” and after that, some quick notes on why the reading list is structured as it is.

  • January: Dopefiend
  • February: Whoreson
  • March: Black Gangster
  • April: Street Players
  • May: White Man’s Justice, Black Man’s Grief
  • June: Black Girl Lost
  • July: Eldorado Red
  • August: Swamp Man
  • September: Never Die Alone
  • October: Cry Revenge
  • November: Daddy Cool
  • December: “The Kenyatta Quadrilogy 1 & 2″ Crime Partners & Death List
  • January: “The Kenyatta Quadrilogy 3 & 4″ Kenyatta’s Escape& Kenyatta’s Last Hit

This reading list primarily goes in the order his books were published. The most notable shift is moving Crime Partners, Death List, Kenyatta’s Escape, and Kenyatta’s Last Hit towards the end and all in order because they are essentially one big novel–and a long-ignored American epic in my opinion. I’ve dubbed them the “Kenyatta Quadrilogy” because that’s the guy that slowly becomes the main character and through which all of the action kinda sorta connects. Though these months, you’ll have to read two novels instead of one but it’s totally do-able. I read all four of them in a week.

Goines’ Inner City Hoodlum is omitted from this list because it’s up-for-debate as to how much he actually had to do with it. It was finished by another author after Goines’ death and well, you can tell. That book will be used as a kind of February “coda” for the Year of Goines Book Club, a way to identify Goines’ style and structuring through its rather apparent absence in that particular book.

Yeah, get reading! Any questions or suggestions on how to run this can be put in the comments section.

Written by Brandon

December 30th, 2009 at 9:51 am

11 Responses to 'No Trivia Book Club: The Year of Goines.'

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  1. I'll roll with you . .. I'll just see if I can read fast enough and complete my regular materials.

    Yeah, I read Goines Writes No More. I guess I'll check out the other book.

    Vee (Scratch)

    30 Dec 09 at 10:50 am

  2. And so marks another crucial step into college professor-dom for Brandon.

    I'll try to keep up but it's taken me like two months to read half of a short stories book by DFW. Maybe I'll meet up with the discussion like every other month or something.


    30 Dec 09 at 7:14 pm

  3. This is a pretty great idea, Brandon I've never read anything by Goines. Just ordered Dopefiend on Amazon.


    30 Dec 09 at 9:31 pm

  4. Wes, was "Daddy Cool" assigned for a class? Or did you choose it?

    Vee (Scratch)

    31 Dec 09 at 12:19 am

  5. Vee,
    It was assigned. It was a very small Texts and Contexts class, so my prof had us all over the place, just trying to put us on to different POVs. We watched "Glengarry Glen Ross" in that same class.


    31 Dec 09 at 1:08 am

  6. Glad to see people are excited about this. I promise to like, go through with it, though yeah, it'll be tough.

    But not too tough…
    Any Goines novel could be read in a day or two really. I think the issue will be more being immersed in one dude's style for so long when his whole thing is a kind of constant roving around of the same ideas/issues, etc.

    But yeah, no one needs to follow through on one or any of the novels.

    That's awesome that this made its way into a class. For some reason, there was always a couple of copies of "Daddy Cool" at Rainbow on Main St, now I know why, ha…

    That rules you ordered it. Let's gooooo


    31 Dec 09 at 3:59 am

  7. Brandon,
    I'll try to see if I can come up with some artwork or two for each book.

    Vee (Scratch)

    31 Dec 09 at 3:43 pm

  8. Perhaps you could have some "scholarly" or whatever articles/reportage to go along with each book that expand on some of the stuff Goines was describing. If needed, I've got access to JSTOR and I could PDF a bunch of stuff if you're interested, but i'm sure you've got plenty of "further reading" suggestions up your sleeve already.

    Any ways, looking forward!

    adam katzman

    1 Jan 10 at 3:14 pm

  9. ordered a copy of dopefiend. let's go!! (no diddy)


    1 Jan 10 at 11:15 pm

  10. Yea Im in this its a great idea, maybe every other month though, got a tonne of books for Xmas Ive been waiting to read PLUS uni work is stepping up a level lol.

    Ben B

    2 Jan 10 at 1:25 pm

  11. OH FUCK i guess i'll do this too, if i can fit it between weekly comics and video games.

    samuel rules

    5 Jan 10 at 8:47 pm

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