Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Question for the Internets

I've got a friend who teaches a class about scandalous books written more for notoriety than for literary merit. (And yes, I know that's unweildy, but I'm doing my best to be ungoogleable on this one.) Anyway, do any of you know of a novel that would fit that broad definition that is written by an African-American author? Please advise!


k8 said...

You mean, something like O.J.'s book?

There is always Dennis Rodman's book about his life ( both are ghost-written, though - does that matter).

I suppose Donald Goines's ouevre might work. He is considered the father of street lit. The books aren't that well-written, but immensely popular. Our jail library group can never keep enough copies available in the local jails. I briefly blogged about Whoreson here: http://harmoniasnecklace.blogspot.com/2006/11/recently-read-whoreson.html

Dr. Crazy said...

I think she's looking for a novel, actually. Thanks for responding K8!

k8 said...

Oops, apparently the URL didn't fully copy. Here it is again:


k8 said...

Goines wrote novels. They aren't necessarily good, but they are popular and notorious among readers of street lit and urban fiction. Very rough, glorify rape, etc. If your friend want to shock the hell out of white, middle class students, these are the books.

negativecapability said...

Check out _The History of Mary Prince_ or _Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in many Lands_ -- neither is really a novel, by they are interesting in terms of narrative and the history of the novel, and the former wasn't actually "written by" MP, but by an abolitionist who claims to be faithfully recording her tale.

Robert said...

Consider the following by the author Zane:

Heart Seekers
Shame On It All

Sisyphus said...

Well.... Ishmael Reed wrote some really scandal-provoking books (I'm thinking of the ones in the 90s where he attacks feminists for undermining black liberation here) but I think his writing is quite good.

There's this crazy, out-there satire, _White Boy Shuffle_, by Paul Beatty ... again, great but I have no clue how one could teach it to white undergraduates, so I file it under "scandalous" in a way.

And what about Chester Himes? He wrote hardboiled detective fiction ---- I hear his portrayal of women and gender is very rough. Haven't read him though.

Going back further than the 50s is Claude McKay's Harlem Renaissance novel Home to Harlem, which, like Carl Van Vechten's Nigger Heaven, caused a lot of scandal when it came out (Vechten's white btw). DuBois attacked McKay's stuff for being too much about sexuality and partying and not working or thinking, basically upholding all the stereotypes that were already circulating.

Steve said...

"The Boatrocker" by Terence Mann is the only one that comes to mind. Alas, it doesn't exist.

Comet Jo said...

well, Samuel R Delany is nothing of not literary, but also sincerely, deeply interested in pornography; he might deny that shock is the intent of any of his books, but transgression of some sort is central to them: two examples from Amazon are a novel:
Phallos http://www.amazon.com/Phallos-Samuel-R-Delany/dp/0917453417/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/102-5706257-6306543?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1190205288&sr=8-3
and a memoir, Bread & Wine: an Erotic Tale of NY, about an affair he had with a homeless man.

Explicit pornagraphy he's written includes Hogg (can't find iton Amazon so may not be in print, or it may just be too much for them)--here is a plot summary from wikipedia:

"The novel is told from the perspective of an eleven-year-old boy who, after being pimped in his friend's basement, joins up with Franklin "Hogg" Hargus, a trucker and rapist-for-hire. The boy, without name but frequently referred to as "cocksucker", satisfies the extreme sexual demands of everyone around him without, until the novel's final word, ever speaking. The narrator witnesses brutality after brutality, describing events in a flat tone of photorealism. He is treated by the men as property or disposable, even being sold to an unemployed dockworker for $15. The book's climax comes when Hogg finally expresses some affection for the boy, who is already plotting an escape."

Also "Tides of Lust", description here:

Wikipedia summary of Delany's career:

Horace said...

There's also The Wind Done Gone the more-interesting-than-good "Unauthorized Parody" of Gone With the Wind that Margaret Mitchell's estate sued to keep from going to press, and which raises issues of authorship, copyright, and discursive ownership. It teaches pretty nicely, too, though again, it's nothing like a fabulous book.

Dr. Crazy said...

Thanks for all of these responses! As I was talking to my friend, we potentially came up with another - *Blacker the Berry*

I know that I was pretty vague in my call, but these are all great possibilities!