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.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2012 Release date: 01/01/2013 Genre: Nonfiction
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