Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Death Wish by Iceberg Slim

(pb; 1977)

From the back cover:

". . . greedy Don Jimmy Colucci. . . wants nothing less than to rule the 'honored society,' dedicated warrior Jessie Taylor. . . is driven to destroy it. . . Vividly real, these powerful implacable figures and their stubbornly loyal underlings stalk each other through pages teeming with life, love, lust, and death."


Slim, aka Robert Beck, serves up an inebriating brew of cynical sex, savagery, greed and street-level racism, peppering his explicit slang verbiage with a diverse array of characters, whose often labyrinthine plots drive them (and everyone around them) to extreme, inevitable betrayals and bloodbaths.

Slim also spices up this Chicago-set, ghetto Shakespearean mix with "voudoo" [voodoo], an instance of bizarre bestiality, and briefly-mentioned necrophilia, with many of the characters laying down "psychodramas" [traps, as Taylor's fellow guerilla militants, The Warriors, call them] for those around them.

Stirring this potboiler even further, Slim's occasional bits of awkward-phrase, jagged urban poetry are thrown in for good measure (e.g., "The sex-fiend squealing of city death wagons sodomized infant day. Chicago, the gaudy b**ch, had banged another carnal night away. Now the fake grand lady lay uglied in her neon ball gown. Sleazed in merciless light. Her bleak drawers hung foul with new and ancient death.").

This last trademark element of Slim's writing is a blessing or a curse, depending on which of his books you read. In Death Wish, it's a blessing.

Worth owning, if you like raw, blaxploitative, don't-give-a-f**k writing.


Mama Zen said...

This sounds COOL!

Anonymous said...

It sure sounds like a dark story.

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