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
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.
Story: (The Life Of Donald Goines)