This column reviews street lit‚ otherwise known as urban books; or as some of my co-workers say, “those crazy stories. But more than once, my patrons have asked me about street lit, calling those titles Triple Crown books. Triple Crown Publications, under the guidance of CEO Vickie M. Stringer, was a pioneer in the mass production of street lit titles and is the genre’s most recognized publisher. This month’s column features two of her company’s recent offerings.
Even though the Triple Crown brand will generate huge interest, K’wan’s writing is simply heads and shoulders above the usual street lit suspects. He is at the top of his game and getting better. His epic Hood Rat series is a great starting point for urban library book clubs or individual patrons curious about street lit.
Pick of the Month
K’wan. Eviction Notice: A Hood Rat Novel. Griffin: St. Martin’s. Sep. 2011. 448p. ISBN 9780312536985. pap. $14.99. F
K’wan, K’wan, K’wan. You hooked me hard, and now I’ll read anything you write. This latest “Hood Rat” installment (Welfare Wifeys; Section 8) has three women‚ Frankie, Porsha, and Sahara‚ dealing with their nasty landlord, Debbie, who mishandled their rent money. An eviction notice will put them on dangerous Harlem streets where rapper Don B., hood thug Shai, and vicious newcomer King James battle to control the drug game. So what are the girls to do? Pole dancing in a strip club, selling coke, and cozying up to King James are ways to make quick cash. K’wan mixes humor with the rough stuff. Valentino, Debbie’s grade school gangster son, runs some game on Frankie, a confrontation that turns hilarious. Frankie slaps his hand away, but the pint-sized playa pitches back. Stop acting like that, ma. Every man wants to test drive the car before he buys it. Vignette-like scenes connect much like that State Farm commercial where one action leads to a reaction. But these are not pay-it-forward acts of kindness‚ bodies, and lots of them, will drop. Through it all, K’wan’s unmatched ear for street talk shines.
VERDICT K’wan has risen from just another street lit author to a writer who produces thrilling plots, and his descriptive prose holds its own against many top-selling authors. Load up with copies. Demand will soar. [Library marketing.]
Hudson, C.J. Next Door Nympho. Life Changing Bks. 2011. 242p. ISBN 9781934230312. pap. $15.
Talk about a title that sells! Hudson follows up with a tension-packed opening sentence: Pow! Diamond’s back slammed against the wall. Diamond Robinson, with pals Essence and Angie, are girls from Cleveland who wanna have fun and, well, lots of sex. Diamond, who selects a dress from Forever 21 because she’s forever stealing somebody’s man, likes her sex fast and furious. Interviewed by a sexual addiction therapist, Diamond estimates her number of partners surpasses 250, but writes down 150 to make it look better. Threesomes, masturbation, and lesbian sex scenes happen on practically every page. Um, girls? Don’t forget to have the guys strap up! HIV can latch on to anyone.
VERDICT Thanks to that eye-catching title, patrons will be snatching up this rough, raw, and risqué tale. Display if you dare!
Ice-T & Radcliff, Mal. Kings of Vice: A Novel. Forge: Tor. Sept. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780765325136. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9780765330987. $14.99. F
Marcus Casey, aka Crush, leaves Attica prison after doing two decades. He returns to New York City, where he’s mystified by cell phones and iPods. What hasn’t changed is his burning desire for vengeance against Gulliver Rono, a gangbanger who betrayed him. But first he needs to round up a loyal crew with street war experience. Rival gangs‚ the Latino Blood Devils and the Asian Black Lotus‚ complicate matters, but Rono now runs the Viceland Kings, Casey’s old crew. Ice-T draws heavily from the old movie The Magnificent Seven, as Casey plays the Yul Brynner role by recruiting warriors who exemplify Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Automatic weapons abound, and there’s no shortage of firepower in the final showdown. It’s a pretty cool shoot-out that will thrill fans of ultraviolent video games like Hitman: Blood Money or God of War.
VERDICT Ice-T, what’s going on? Last month you reeled me in with your Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-From South Central to Hollywood, and now you hit me with a cool novel about the streets! Slow down, dude. No, check that‚ write more! [See Prepub Alert, 3/28/11.]
Lennox, Lisa. Played. Triple Crown. 2011. 312p. ISBN 9780982588819. pap. $15. F
I’m not sure if this title’s publication was pushed back from November 2010 because it has just arrived at my library, and it has been on order for many months. No matter. Flush with sex and all the drama that comes with relationships, this book centers on the bisexual lifestyle and will draw readers from the very first sentence. She was naked before I poured my first drink. Taj Jenson works her hustle with a series of other women performing lesbian sex shows for men. They easily make $3000 for a weekend’s work. But even though they simulate passion in the bedroom, Taj cannot trust any of her co-performers, and she finds her apartment cleaned out of furniture, television, and clothes. Taj moves from lesbian relationships to hooking up with Kelvin Ross, an ultra-sexy guy who has sexual issues of his own. It seems he can’t be with just one woman. Dang, ain’t it always that way with men in street lit?
VERDICT Lennox crams plenty of street lit elements into this story. Drugs, betrayal, and extreme wealth crashing to poverty all highlight Taj’s struggle to make it on her own. Her story moves from sexual escapades to one of personal redemption. Patrons will once again flock to the Triple Crown label.
Monay, Michelle. Wife. Triple Crown. 2011. 248p. ISBN 9780983209539. pap. $15. F
India Jones likes hubby Sump bankrolling her shopping sprees for $300 jeans and $2000 designer handbags, but she wants the dude to leave the streets and come home sometime before 4 a.m. She just knows he’s cheatin’, and, yep, he is. Lilly is the other woman, but Lilly’s special because she’s given Sump two sons. India confronts him, and it goes badly: ‚Ä¶so instead he reared his hand all the way back and back handed her in the mouth, causing her to fly up on the bed. But what goes around comes around, and the Feds turn India into a wife with a husband in prison.
VERDICT All the elements of a solid urban tale are here, but Monay (Hood Richest) bogs down her plot with excessive descriptions of clothes, cars, food, and folks strutting into clubs. Still, the dialog is pure street, and female readers will nod in sympathy as India sorts out feelings for her man. Triple Crown’s name will draw big interest, so buy in anticipation of significant demand.
Street Lit for Your Listening Pleasure
These street lit titles produced as audiobooks will soon be available!
Ashley & JaQuavis. Murderville: The First of a Trilogy. 6 CDs. library ed. unabridged. Blackstone Audio. Jul. 2011. ISBN 9781441791498. $69; 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged; 1 MP3-CD library ed.; Playaway digital. F
K’wan. Eviction Notice: A Hood Rat Novel. 9 CDs. library ed. unabridged. Blackstone Audio. September 2011. ISBN 9781455119660. $100; 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged; 1 MP3-CD library ed.; Playaway digital. F
Turner, Nikki. A Woman’s Work: Street Chronicles. 7 CDs. unabridged. Books on Tape. Sep. 2011. ISBN 9780307943385. $35. F
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