"One of the most exciting literary revival series since the rediscovery of Jim Thompson's novels" (Playboy), Old School Books "is subtly transforming the landscape of post-war black fiction" (Bomb).
A pimp who began writing in prison, Slim (Pimp: Story of My Life) filled his stories with the intricacies of pimping, drug dealing, numbers running and all manner of urban hustling, and between the mid-1960s and the mid '70s became the bestselling black novelist in American history. Now Old School Books has reissued his remarkable fictional memoir of a Chicago drag queen coming of age during the 1930s and '40s. At its core is the archetypal African American story: Otis Tilson's family moves from the rural South to the urban promised land of Chicago only to find more racism, abysmal slums and demeaning, low-paying jobs. Unable to provide for his family, Otis's father declines into alcoholism while the family founders, with Otis's doomed sisters and brother drifting into prostitution and petty crime. Meanwhile, the secret gay life that sets Otis apart from them is an endless nightmare of rapes, beatings and failed attempts at heterosexual love. It ain't pretty, but Slim's bracing ghetto melodrama and famously histrionic voice ("But she hesitated... for one hellish, destructive fragment of a pounding, torturous instant!") capture a core of unsentimental truth not just about homosexuality in the ghetto but also about the myths and travails of masculinity itself. (July)