Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Review: Whoreson by Donald Goines


When I was 13 years old I found a book titled Whoreson by Donald Goines lying around my house. I assumed it previously belonged to my older sister, who I often siphoned books from which were not age appropriate for me (my sister was 19 years old). I didn’t immediately understand what the title of the book meant, but I decided to start reading.

And I kept reading and reading until I finished - non-stop, without regard to anything or anyone else. It was the first time I was exposed to street literature. 

Street literature (not to be confused with Victorian era street advertisements) sometimes classified as “urban fiction” or "street fiction" is a style of writing which illustrates the gritty urban realism and usually describes “ghetto life”.

A photo of author Donald Goines

Whoreson opened my eyes to a new world of hatred, violence and sex which I would have never imagined, especially at 13 years of age (even though I grew up in North Philly, lucky for me, my parents kept me pretty sheltered – just not from my older sisters’ reading materials). 

Whoreson is the coming of age story of Whoreson Jones, the son of a prostitute (hence his name, Whoreson) who by the age of 16 becomes a pimp. The book takes you on a wild ride throughout the underworld of pimping. Even though some passages are hard to read for their bluntness, it keeps you reading with its fast pace and anticipation of what will happen next.

The book is a quick read, which can easily be finished over the weekend or an uninterrupted evening after work. 

This book is not for the timid (nor do I recommend it for 13 year olds, but I can’t say no to anything that will encourage kids to read). Donald Goines writes in a straight-forward, gritty manner about controversial topics, such as violence (especially against women), prostitution, rape, and all things pimping. After reading this book, I’m sure, just like me, you are amazed at people who glamorize “pimping”. It’s an ugly, ugly violent world, best left only to the confines of books.

You can read the first 70 pages (the book is 320 pages) of the book at Google Book Search, purchase at amazon for $7.99 or pick it up at your local library! 


Donald Goines in front of his typewriter

About the Author, Donald Goines
Donald Goines’ life gives all his novels authenticity. Donald was born in 1937 in Detroit into a middle class black family. Expected to go into his family’s laundry business, Donald joined the military and got addicted to heroin. He spent much of his life as a pimp, thief, bootlegger, and numbers runner. He spent 6 years in prison where he was introduced to the writings of Iceberg Slim (a well known street fiction author), who inspired him to start writing. 

During his career, he wrote in the morning and devoted the rest of the day to using heroin. Donald went on to write 16 books in 5 years. On October 21, 1974, Donald and his wife were shot to death in Detroit. Some believe it was over a failed drug deal, the murderer(s) are still unknown.

If you like Whoreson, you might also like:

Additional Reading About Donald Goines and street literature

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