EDDIE B. ALLEN JR.
LOW ROAD can be ordered at
NPR INTERVIEW with Tony Cox and Eddie Allen Jr.
Review by Dr. Mark Anthony Neal
Low Road: The Life and Legacy of Donald Goines
By Eddie B. Allen, Jr.
St. Martinís Press, October 2004, @$23.95, ISBN 0-312-29124-8
Why do rappers still quote lyrics from Donald Goines novels, and why, 30 years after his death, is Holloway House Publishing still reprinting his novels? Even before the recent release of Never Die Alone, a movie based on a Goines novel of the same name starring rap artist DMX, Goines remained popular among urban youth. Goinesí novels can be compared in some ways to the cult following on the hip-hop scene of the movie Scarface. Allenís biography of Donald Goines is the first book to examine the far-reaching influences of Goinesí writing. Allenís insights, both as a Detroiter, who shares Goinesí hometown, and as a journalist will, Iím sure, interest all of Goinesí fans.
"Wham!" the first word in chapter one of Eddie Allen, Jrís Low Road: The Life and Legacy of Donald Goines, is also an appropriate description of the unflinching honesty of Allenís style which is similar in that way to Goinesí. A fresh organization of prose and metaphors in Low Road provide a sense of the city that boasts icons such as Malcolm, Motown, and motor cars. Juxtaposed against the cultural/historical backdrop of Detroit and Goinesí life, the reader of Low Road will find mesmerizing splashes of historical experiences which produced the prolific Goines.
Allenís biography of Goines follows the destiny of one black man in America but what the reader will find chilling is that Goinesí fate could be that of our son, brother, cousin or uncle. Low Road forces us to examine the incomprehensible situation that is Goinesí life and to question the destruction of young black menís lives in America from Goines himself to his grandchild, Donald Goines III, killed as a child in 1992. Goinesí novels remain a vivid picture of a lifestyle involving violence, sex and drugs which has become more glamorous and more appealing with time to urban media mongrels who avoid accountability. Allenís indirectly asks the 70ís question, "Whatís Goin On? And for me Allen calls a community to accountability and causes us to ask how many times are we going to allow Goines story to be repeated?
Notwithstanding, for those other readers who are looking for the definitive story of Donald Goinesí life and a taste of the mysterious, this is the book. In addition, readers who want to experience black Detroit will be delighted to find many historical markers along the way. Low Road: The Life and Legacy of Donald Goines is a wonderful addition to bookshelves about black popular culture and black icons.
_Reviewed by Dr. Imelda Hunt for BLACK ISSUES BOOK REVIEW
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