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54 Reviews
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty as all get out
This is a very graphic and gritty novel but not for the squeamish, faint of heart or those who want a happy ending because a happy ending you're not going to get. A friend told me to give this a try and I must say it was probably one of the most nailbiting page turning protrayals of inner city 1930s black urban life. I seriously could not put it down as much as I wanted...
Published on April 11, 2006 by bowery boy

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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging Social Commentary in the Guise of a Mediocre Novel
In Mama Black Widow, Iceberg Slim tells the story of Otis Tilson, "an incredibly comely and tragic homosexual queen." The book is compelling for two reasons: its vivid recounting of a Black family's relocation from rural Mississippi to Chicago during the Great Migration of the 1920s, and its colorful portrayal of Chicago's homosexual underworld in the 1940s and...
Published on March 5, 2001 by vagrant-lbc


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty as all get out, April 11, 2006
This is a very graphic and gritty novel but not for the squeamish, faint of heart or those who want a happy ending because a happy ending you're not going to get. A friend told me to give this a try and I must say it was probably one of the most nailbiting page turning protrayals of inner city 1930s black urban life. I seriously could not put it down as much as I wanted to at some points.

The story is about Otis Tilson, otherwise known as Sally or Tilly by his cross dressing pals or Sweet Pea by the arachnoid mother of the title.

The Tilsons, a cotton picking family living on a plantation in the South, come into a windfall from a family member "up North" and pack up their bags and move to a 1930s Chicago ghetto where racism, drugs, prostitution, violence and police brutality run rampant and unchecked.

Told from the perspective of Otis at the age of ten we watch as the once happy and moderately successful family slowly unravel and fall into ruin because of Mama's obsession with money. As a result, Papa becomes a broken shell of a man, sister Carol falls in love with the wrong suitor with tragic results, sister Bessie turns to prostitution with a bleak outcome, brother Junior turns to a life of crime and murder and even Otis, grappling with his homosexuality,comes to his own unfortunate end.

Definitely on the order of Hubert Selby Jr's novels, Mama Black Widow tells a story of down and out people living in a private hell with no where to go but down. Like Selby's Requiem for A Dream, Mama Black Widow would make a compelling, gritty and heart wrencHing movie.

The only complaint I had about the novel were the excessive amount of typos even to the point where whole sentences were left out. It did add an extra gritty realism to the novel and seeing that my copy was an original pressing from 1969, I can only hope the typos were corrected in more recent pressings. I can't wait to get my hands on more Iceberg Slim.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tear jerker. FOR A MAN THAT REFUSED TO CRY!, June 23, 2006
By 
P. (CHICAGO, IL USA) - See all my reviews
THIS BOOK CAUGHT ME BY SURPRIZED. I SAW ICEBERG SLIM AND THOUGHT A ANOTHER, GREAT BOOK ABOUT PIMP HUSTLER'S. I WAS SHOCKED TO FIND IT TAKES PLACE IN A CHICAGO, IL. IN A NIEGHBORHOOD, I CURRENTLY LIVE IN. A SAD AND TEAR JERKING BOOK. FOR MAN THAT REFUSED TO EVER CRY. SADLY THIS BOOK IS SAID, TO BE A BOOK ABOUT HOMOSEXUALS. I STRONGLY DISAGREE. THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BLACK FAMILY. A MOTHER WILLING TO SELL HER OWN CHILDS SOLE FOR FANCY CLOTHES AND LATEST GOOD'S. THIS BOOK HAS MADE ME LOOK AT THE WAY I TREAT PEOPLE I DONT KNOW. FORCE ME TO LOOK AT MY COMMUNITY WITH NEW EYE'S. THANK YOU ICEBERG SLIM. - PARIS. CHICAGO.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars youll never believe it, April 18, 2010
i smoke weed 24/7. and guess what this book did.......it kept me away from going to the trap to get some loud and kept me from going to the store to get me some swisher sweets. it kept me sober for 3 dayz straight!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wake up to reality..., September 22, 2010
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...of what black Americans have had to endure in this country. Coming from a white woman that has always had very close African American friends and family and never really understood the deep seeded hatred many black folks have toward their history with white folks.

I was born in 1970 and always seen white/black as equal perhaps because I've always felt us as such. But this book really took me to a place where I could recognize the oppression of black folks and what a nightmare, hellish experience for so many in the early 1900's. Beck takes you right there.

A very gritty, sad and tragic book but for some reason one of my favorites. I liked this one much more than Pimp. I'm looking forward to Trick Baby.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rereading, March 6, 2014
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I have always loved this book. I read it as a young person and now I am rereading as an older person. It is a book that people of all color can read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the real truth, September 23, 2013
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I totally enjoyed reading the book. It was true to life and mesmerizing. Iceberg slim is an excellent writher. I felt like a fly on the wall at all the scenes in the book. The grammatical errors were few and I understood the book. This is a must read even in the 21st century. It is still relevant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mama Black Widow: A Story of Souths Black Underworld, July 12, 2013
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Read this book 30-40 years ago and misplaced my copy of it (probably still in the house somewhere) It was a VERY good read, so I decided to get it again. Gives interesting insight to one mans' life growing up in the south and his family migrating to one of the northern states, and their struggles along the way and after they get there. This author been long dead, but he wrote some very interesting books that will always be in my collection, and I do recommend, if you like this genre.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 9, 2014
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This review is from: Mama Black Widow (Paperback)
Very good read.would recommend! !!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!, June 29, 2014
By 
DC Guy (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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This is my first Iceberg Slim book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great and tragic story of life in the ghetto that's still relevant today. Happy I took the leap and purchased the book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exactly as advertised!, May 29, 2014
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The book came earlier then expected and in great condition for a used book.... my husband is absolutely thrilled and can't wait to begin reading it after he finishes trick baby!
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Mama Black Widow
Mama Black Widow by Iceberg Slim (Paperback - May 7, 2013)
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