Justin Gifford is an Associate Professor of English and author of the critically-acclaimed books Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim and Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing. His writing focuses on the shadow canon of African American fiction known as street literature.
This website provides visitors with a glimpse into the rich, inner life pimp-turned-writer, Robert Beck, better known as Iceberg Slim. A digital companion to Street Poison, the website contains over 200 primary documents. You can gain a better understanding of Beck’s life by exploring the archival records of the people who influenced him most, such as his mother and his pimp mentor, the infamous Albert “Baby” Bell. You can investigate Beck’s prison and FBI files, which provide fascinating insights into his transformation from criminal to author. You can read selections from his late unpublished writings, available to the public for the first time.
Additionally, there is a photo album of Beck’s life, an art gallery of vintage black paperback book covers, and additional resources, such articles and interviews with pioneering street literature authors.