When I was younger, I use to devour Donald Goines books. During his era, there were only a few black writers and African-Americans wanted to read about people who looked like them and talked like them. Rappers Ice Cube, Fredro Starr and DMX are huge fans of Donald Goines’ books.

His books gave you an insiders view to street life, his characters were entertaining and his stories were richly developed. It’s amazing that this man could write like this, considering he was an active heroin addict, all of his adult life. He was under the influence of heroin when he wrote his entire catalogue of 14 books before his murder; this is his story.


At age 14, Donald Goines (pictured above) forged a birth certificate to join the military. He was introduced to heroin in the air force.

Discharged at age 15, he was a full-blown heroin addict. He returned home to Detroit and pawned his mother’s sewing machine and television to support his habit.

At 18, he became a vicious pimp. He was so brutal; he often beat his women with “hot” coat hangers that he heated up on the stove.

During a jail stint, he turned to writing, during his incarceration. He would write an essay on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and win an award.

When he was released, he read books by Iceberg Slim and decided to become a writer. He bought an old typewriter and typed a manuscript detailing his life, entitled “Dopefiend.” He paid his sister 10 cents a page to proofread.

Once, he his sister into the room and made her watch as he tied a belt around his arm and injected heroin into his vein. Afterwards, he told her, ‘I wanted you to witness that, so you’ll never be addicted like me.’ Later, when it was time for the next fix, he called another sister into the room, and repeated the same routine and gave her the same message.

He sent the manuscript to Iceberg Slim’s publisher, ‘Holloway House.’ They responded by offering him a book deal. He would receive 12 cents off of each book sold and each book would be priced at $1.90.

Goines would soon develop a writing routine, he would shoot up heroin and nod off, wakeup, and write non-stop.

Goines would author over 14 books, which are still popular, especially in the prison system. His books would go on to sell millions of copies and he became known as the ‘Godfather Of Urban Fiction.’

He relocated to Los Angeles. During his stay, he met his idol Iceberg Slim. Goines thanked him for being a major influence in his life.

Goines became homesick and moved back to Detroit.

Goines would eventually marry a woman named Shirley. She already had one daughter and she would give birth to another daughter, fathered by Goines.

One evening, they were relaxing at home and Shirley was popping popcorn in the kitchen when the doorbell rang.

She answered the door, two white men stormed in, pulled out guns and killed Donald and Shirley while the kids played nearby, they were left unharmed.

Rumors on the street indicated that a contract was taken out on Goines over a drug debt and the black underworld was not happy with his book. They considered the books too revealing and thinly based on real life characters, who didn’t want their illegal activities publicized.

The killers were never apprehended.

To this day, his books have never been out of print, making him one of the most successful African-American authors in history.

Source: Donnie’s Story: (The Life Of Donald Goines)



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