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Disgusting, scary, but such an interesting voice.
am 12. April 2000
I've got two completely different opinions about _Pimp_ and Robert Beck himself. One is glowing, the other terrible. Maybe that's what makes Beck and his books so interesting. First, the glowing opinion. Beck's style is like nothing I've ever read before. He claims to have a 175 I.Q. I don't doubt it. No one less brilliant could conjure up the metaphors and images he casually slings as if they were off the top of his head. The book is written in a loose, story-telling style, as if it was never revised, typos and all. Beck makes you feel as if you were standing on a street corner listening to a "fast track pimp" weave his life's yarn. Many times, I would read a sentence several times simply to admire the unique vision Beck gave to an action as simple as getting in or out of a car (a "hog") or thinking about his mother. The terminology is another, brilliantly colorful language (complete with glossary in the back!).Although the story dotes on his early years and then cruises through a couple of decades in a matter of pages, Beck's tale was never slow or anything less than gleaming. That is the glowing opinion. Now the terrible one. I'll try not to seem sanctimonious. To me, Robert Beck is (was) an alarmingly vicious hypocrite and psychopathic criminal. The book begins and ends with his tepid claims that he has seen the error of his ways and regrets his former life. These meager claims are ridiculous when you read the pride, nostalgia, and admiration with which Beck recounts his former life. In one passage in particular, his role model and mentor teaches him an unbelievable method to keep his whores in line. Whip them bloody with a wire coathanger. Beck eagerly tests the method. You can sense the satisfaction with which he regards the successful results. Beck tells us about breaking women's jaws and pummelling them senseless in the same manner he might use to recount old football victories. This is not a repentant ex-pimp. This is a retired pimp who is smart enough to realize that if he pays lipservice to reform and enlightenment, he will sell his books to a much larger audience. He certainly did make a nice pile of "scratch" off the stories he wrote glorifying his former lifestyle ("Long White Con" is the other Beck book I've read-- much more mediocre in style and plot). In the end, I recommend _Pimp_ as a refreshingly unique voice in modern literature. I certainly don't admire Beck's life, nor endorse the lifestyle (as so many other reviewers alarmingly seem to!).