Daddy Cool by Donald Goines, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Daddy Cool

Daddy Cool

4.1 13
by Donald Goines

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"[Donald] Goines's novels have sold millions of copies in the inner cities (rappers are big fans). Originally published in 1974, this high-profile paperback reprint takes him mainstream. It's about time." —Suzanne Rura, Entertainment Weekly


"[Donald] Goines's novels have sold millions of copies in the inner cities (rappers are big fans). Originally published in 1974, this high-profile paperback reprint takes him mainstream. It's about time." —Suzanne Rura, Entertainment Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Digby Diehl - Playboy
“One of the most exciting literary revival series since the rediscovery of Jim Thompson's novels.”
The Source
“If you can't get enough of Shaft, Foxy Brown (the original one) or Dolemite, then check Old School Books' new series of pulp novels featuring the boldest African-American authors of our time. These new cultural artifacts are fast-paced and hard. They take the brutality and ruin of the urban Black landscape and transform them into art. Each character in the series is searching for 'old school' wisdom and never loses sight of the racial, political, and emotional context from which they came.”
Clarence Major
“My endorsement of Old School Books is a hundred percent. This is the kind of publishing program that shows serious readers that publishing can still be more than just a business. This is a cultural service of the highest order. W.W. Norton and Company deserves a standing ovation. Congratulations.”
Ishmael Reed
“Glad to see that at least one publisher isn't afflicted with the bottom-line fever, the republishing of these old time classics proves that Norton is devoted to quality publishing. I'm especially glad to see John A. Williams' The Angry Ones used. It's as fresh as the day it was written.”
Village Voice Literary Supplement
“As of late, members of the pulp pantheon are finding themselves being revised by Hollywood, scrutinized by serious academics, and canonized by the Library of America, though they never completely went out of fashion. But a little-known subgenre of pulp that faded from public view will soon be getting its second chance when Norton's Old School Books, a series of paperback reprint by black pulp novelists, hit bookstores.”
Mack Daddy for the Ages

Back in 1974, young men used to read books like Daddy Cool and The School on 103rd Street. These cult books were the literary equivalent of blaxploitation movies: stories of black action heroes (usually hardened street warriors like pimps, dealers, or hit men) who were trying to get one over on the Man (represented by racist cops, government stooges, or corrupt politicians). A whole generation of inner-city youths cut teeth on these pulp fiction thrillers, yet the authors and books remain unknown outside the ghetto.

With the reissue of these classics by Old School Books (W. W. Norton), Original Gangster literature moves from the ghetto slum to the buppie enclave. In "serious" literary circles, ghetto stars such as Iceberg Slim and Chester Himes are now referred to as "urban realists." Consider yourself warned.

This genre exists in an amoral universe, where "good guys" are sometimes hardened criminals, and by the last page the heroes usually meet a violent end. One of the most popular cult writers was Donald Goines, a heroin addict and ex-con whose 16 books chronicled the brutal and desperate lives of addicts, hustlers, and pimps. Goines's books have remained in print, but Daddy Cool is his first novel to be given the trade paperback treatment.

Although hugely popular, Goines was far from a master prose stylist. Many of his books have hollow characters and laughable plots. His finest book, by far, was this novel about Larry Jackson, better known as Daddy Cool. Although he's the best hired killer money can buy, even Daddy Cool isn't safe from domestic trouble. He's got two lazy stepsons who've turned stickup men, a wife he's outgrown and barely tolerates, and a beloved daughter who's left home to live with her boyfriend, a young pimp on the make. It's taken a toll on Daddy Cool and thrown off his game. A routine assignment, for example, results in the deaths of his mark and an unexpected witness. Things get even worse when he discovers his daughter has started working the streets for her boyfriend.

In Daddy Cool, Goines's plot makes up for his bare-bones writing style. He manages to do the unthinkable: take a standard blaxploitation stereotype and make him into a believable character. Here's the scene where Daddy Cool spots his daughter plying her trade:

"Hey, kitten," he said gently, "I didn't come down here to find you just to see you lookin' blue. I remembered that today was your birthday and hoped maybe we could have dinner or something together."

"Oh, Daddy," she cried; then the floodgates opened and all the pent-up emotions she had been holding back came spilling out. Daddy Cool leaned over and took his daughter in his arms. She cried as though her heart was broken.

As he held her tenderly, he had to fight down a lump that came into his throat. He stroked the back of her head and spoke gently to her. "Now, girl, it ain't nothin' that bad, is there? I know I raised a girl who could just about handle everything that came up."

Goines manages to walk the line between heartfelt sentiment and melodrama. Best of all, he fully explores the complex interrelationships of his characters. And don't worry, there's still plenty of tough gangsta stylin' and explosive violence to make hard-core gangsta rappers look like stone-cold punks. And in a broader sense, Daddy Cool and the other Old School Books titles are important historical and cultural markers for African Americans. Norton deserves acknowledgement for rescuing these otherwise abandoned treasures.

Originally published over a 21-year period (1957-1978), these books and authors fell just outside the limelight created by the Black Arts Movement—that 1960s literary/political movement that advanced social engagement as its banner toward liberation. Eschewing the accommodationist literature of civil rights, the Black Arts Movement aspired only to black power. Among its early progenitors were writers Tom Dent, Ishmael Reed, Larry Neal, and Rosa Guy and poets Dudley Randall and Amiri Baraka, the movement's acknowledged founder. The literary movement coalesced in 1965, holding tightly together until 1975-1976.

But Old School Books authors found themselves in a double bind. As a genre, they were dependent on acceptance by the established politic for finance and publication. The New Negro Movement and glow of the Harlem Renaissance had long passed, and the perceived value of African-American fiction was minimal.

The Black Arts Movement, ignited by performance poetry spoken in popular rhetoric and vernacular, sparked mass appeal. While poetry flourished (the Last Poets, Haki Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks), black fiction took a back seat. Simultaneously, as the Black Arts Movement spoke of community and liberation, the themes addressed by Old School authors made them politically incorrect pariahs: "Player and hustlers...mack daddies and racketeers...cops on the take and girls on the make" reads one introduction.

Apparently, time has rehabilitated (and exonerated) these authors, now warmly embraced in the hip-hop era. "They take the brutality and ruin of the urban black landscape and transform them into art," says The Source. In Old School Books, one can find a dramatic recounting of black life on the hard track. Welcome back.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Old School Book
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Daddy Cool
Donald Goines

An Excerpt

Daddy cool noticed the man he was following turn the corner and start walking faster. There was no better time than now to make the hit. As long as the man stayed on these back streets it would be perfect. He only had to catch up with the man without arousing his suspicions. Daddy Cool started to lengthen his stride until he was almost running.

William had a definite goal. A long time friend stayed somewhere in the next block, but over the years he had forgotten just where the house was. In his haste to leave Detroit, he had left his address book on the dining-room table, so it was useless to him now. He slowed down, knowing that he would recognize the house when he saw it. It was on Newal Street, that he was sure of. It shouldn't be too hard to find in the coming darkness.
Like a hunted animal, Billings' nerves were sharpened to a peak. Glancing back over his shoulder, he noticed a tall man coming around the corner. His first reaction was one of alarm. His senses, alert to possible danger, had detected the presence of someone or something in the immediate vicinity. As a shiver of fear ran down his spine, he ridiculed himself for being frightened of his own shadow. There was no need for him to worry about someone picking up his trail. Not this soon anyway.

Disregarding the warning alarm that went off inside his head, he slowed his pace so that he could see the old shabby houses better. The neighborhood had once been attractive, with the large rambling homes built back in the early twenties. But now, they were crumbling. Most of them needed at least a paint job. Where there had once been rain gutters, there was now only rusted-out packs of tin, ready to collapse at the first burst of rain.

William cursed under his breath. He wondered if in his early haste he might have made a wrong turn. It was possible. It had been years since he'd been up this way, and it was easy for him to get turned around. He slowed his walk down until he was almost standing still. Idly he listened to the foot steps of the man who had turned down the same street as he did. Unable to control himself, William turned completely around and glanced at the tall, somberly dressed man coming toward him. He let out a sigh as he realized that he had been holding his breath. He noticed that the man coming toward him was middle-aged. Probably some family man, he reasoned, hurrying home from work. He almost laughed out loud as he reflected on what a hired killer would look like. He was sure of one thing, a hit man wouldn't be as old as the man coming toward him. In his mind, William pictured the hit man sent out after him as a wild young man, probably in his early twenties. A man in a hurry to make a name for himself. One who didn't possess to high an intelligence, that being the reason he would have become a professional killer. It didn't take any brains to pull the trigger on a gun, William reasoned. But a smart man would stay away form such an occupation. One mistake and a hit man's life was finished.

Suddenly William decided that he was definitely going the wrong way. He whirled around on his heels swiftly. The tall, light-complexioned man coming near him stopped suddenly. For a brief moment William hesitated, thinking he saw fear on the man's face. The dumb punk-ass bastard, William coldly reflected. If the sorry motherfucker only new how much cash William had in the briefcase he carried, the poor bastard wouldn't be frightened by William's sudden turn.

"Don't worry, old chap," William said loudly so that the other man wouldn't fear him. "I'm just lost, that's all. These damn streets all look alike at night."

The tall, dark-clothed man had hesitated briefly; now he came forward quickly. He spoke softly. "Yeah, mister, you did give me a fright for just a minute. You know," he continued, "you can't trust these dark streets at night. Some of these dope fiends will do anything for a ten-dollar bill."

William laughed lightly, then smiled. He watched the tall man reach back behind his collar. Suddenly the smile froze on his face as the evening moonlight sparkled brightly off the keen-edged knife that was twitching in the man's hand.

Without thinking, William held out his hand. "Wait a minute," he cried out in fear. "If it's money you want, I'll give you all mine." Even in his fright, William tried to hold onto the twenty-five thousand dollars he had in his briefcase. He reached for the wallet in his rear pocket. He never reached it.

With a flash, the tall man dressed in black threw his knife. The motion was so smooth and quick that the knife became only a blur. The knife seemed to turn in the air once or twice, then became imbedded in William's small chest. It happened so suddenly that William never made a sound. The force of the blow staggered him. He remained on his feet for a brief instant while the knife protruded from his body.

Copyright (c) 1997 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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