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Cuttin' Up: Wit and Wisdom From Black Barber Shops Hardcover – May 10, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385511647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385511643
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,195,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I truly loved this book. My heart leapt in my chest when I saw it on the book shelf. As a "kitchen-barber" for more than twenty-years I was ecstatic to see the subject matter bound with photographs and ready to read.

The barbershop has for men of African decent been a respite from women, life's pressures, etiquette, censorship and sometimes reality for many years. This highly valued institution often serves the community as an outreach center, political platform, advice booth, stand-up comedy tryout club and therapist's couch. Craig Maybery has struck gold again with an enjoyable foray into the subtleties of African American culture. Like his book, "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats" Mayberry gives the reader a clear insight into the passion Blacks have for their turn at at an American tradition. It was so refreshing to see an accurate view of the black barbershop which isn't exaggerated as in the films, Barbershop I and II or butchered like the Showtime adaptation "Barbershop"; (What a MESS!)

Using 49 short biographical stories the author gives us an authentic look into the motivations, tragedies, humor and passions of the men and women who cut and style the afro-american hair shaft. The portraits of these barbers are as they presented themselves to the author. They are human: Flawed, Dedicated, Unique and Proud.

The only disappointment I had in reading this book was not being able to find present-day photos of all of the subjects interviewed. I intend to give several of these books as gifts. A beautiful tribute to the men (or women) everyone needs and uses and takes for granted and noone wants to lose. Your barber.
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Format: Hardcover
If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times: black people have a special relationship with their hair. In CUTTIN' UP, Craig Marberry has put together a collection of interesting vignettes that highlight black barber shops around the nation. The stories introduce us to all kinds of people, some barbers, some patrons, some famous, and some lesser known. Each passage includes relevant photographs, usually of the narrator. The book covers a myriad of issues and topics including haircuts as a rite of passage, civil rights and the barber shop, barber shop camaraderie, funny stories and superstitions. Some stories are humorous, others are sad and all are educational.

Marberry has put together a well-organized collection that will remind readers that the ordinary things in life like going to the barber shop for a shape up can have a meaningful impact on one's life. This is a book you can pick up again and again and find at least one or two passages that will speak to you. By sharing stories told by an assortment of contributors, the author highlights our cultural diversity. The accompanying photographs make the stories even more personal and some of them are worth a second, more thoughtful look on the basis of their pure artistry alone. CUTTIN' UP didn't move emotional mountains for me, but the passages did make me smile and leave me with a sense of warmth. (RAW Rating: 3.5)

Reviewed by Stacey Seay

of The RAWSISTAZ™ Reviewers
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Format: Hardcover
Thanks to the popularity of a recent movie, Barbershop, the public's attention has focused on the central gathering place for black men, the local barbershop. In an oral history that covers every aspect of community life, Marberry gathers stories from across the country, from "Detroit to Orlando, Brooklyn to Houston". This small gem, complete with black and white photographs, captures the wit and wisdom of barbers and their patrons, including a very select few women barbers who wield their scissors on this sacred turf.

Albert Ghee, Jr., a customer, talks about Shorty, a midget with a shoe shine stand, who worked in the back of his uncle's barbershop in Farmville, Virginia. If you gave Shorty an extra dollar, he'd thump out tunes with his rag as he polished your shoes, "The Star Spangled Banner" or "Amazing Grace." But Albert never enjoyed Shorty's unique rhythms until he was thirteen-years old; boys had to be teenagers before they were allowed to partake of the barbershop ambiance.

Wheeler Parker, a barbershop owner, has a cautionary tale to share, a hard lesson forced upon young men in his day, white men terrorizing in the middle of the night. Parker wants more for the younger generation after all the suffering, all the lost opportunities of his youth. He wants them to remember his cousin's name, Emmett Till. "He had a short life. Fourteen years. But if we remember, then it wasn't a wasted life."

Betty Reece was the only other woman besides Clara Poke and forty men in barber school. Betty was so painfully shy that one of her instructors said she was "so slow, she would miss the boat and the bus". Betty never did overcome her shyness and sat all day waiting for customers, lacking the effusiveness to gather regular clients.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been admiring this book from afar for a long time now and finally bought it recently. My only regret is that I did not buy it sooner. When I received the book it was a one day read for me. I actually learned a lot from reading this collection of memoirs. By far, the most amazing story in this book was that of a certain Barber who was the cousin of Emmitt Till (We all know who that is). That story, by itself, is worth the price of this book. And, he even supplied a pic of him and Emmitt when they were very young to back the story up. This is one of those writes that reminds you how important The Barbershop, that we tend to take for granted, is in the community. I appreciated this book very much and would recommend this to anyone interested in getting a more in depth look at the world of barbering. So, please buy this very interesting book, If not or yourself, purchase it for someone else.
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