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Cuttin' Up: Wit and Wisdom From Black Barber Shops Hardcover – May 10, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
The author of Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats (a collaboration with photographer Michael Cunningham) shifts his focus from hats to hair with this celebration of the black barber shop, "one of the nation's earliest black businesses [and]... as much a think tank as it is a comedy showcase." Over the course of 18 months, Marberry traveled around the country to document that particular "barber shop atmosphere." In Detroit, a policeman waxes poetic about a good "Razor Line" haircut; in Nashville, Oprah Winfrey's barber father, Vernon, jokes: "Somebody asked me if Oprah is my only child. I said, 'The only one so far.' " Along with the cutting quips and clipping tips, each barber and patron offers a little slice of life; topics include black history, celebrity clients, raids on unlicensed barbers, robberies, murders and the attitudes of female barbers: "It's tough for a woman in a barber shop. They say it's the black man's country club." Sixty b&w photos show the faces behind the commentary, but only some locations are identified; shop names aren't supplied, and curiously, shop exteriors aren't shown. And though Marberry is a fine writer, he gives only four pages of his own words. (May 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Marberry, author of Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats 2000), explores another black cultural phenomenon--the barbershop. The shops are an institution of fellowship in which black men commune, where there are unwritten social rules of tradition, where conversations can entertain and enlighten. World issues are interwoven with more localized and mundane concerns, including job woes and troubled relationships. Marberry visited black barbershops across the U.S and observed numerous exchanges between barbers and their customers that reflect a forum for teaching in an informal context. Marberry reflects on some of the traditions of black barbers, the fact that black barbers used to cut white men's hair but could not do so in the same shops where they cut black men's hair. The black barbershop, like the church, was--and is--a central outlet for news and connections. Marberry touches on black barbers' involvement in the civil rights movement, as businessmen operating central news stations in the black community. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Used some of the wit and wisdom in this book for a Men's program. Funny and well received!Published 8 months ago by Woman of Wisdom
An excellent collection of stories compiled to form a Great ReadPublished on September 26, 2014 by Eve
i enjoy the stories told by not only the barbers but the customers on their experience of being in and around the barbershop. I being a barber found this book very interesting.Published on July 19, 2013 by dirtyreg22
Cuttin' Up: Wit and Wisdom from Black Barber Shops is definitely a coffee table book for the men of the house. You'll enjoy the contents of this book!Published on January 1, 2012 by Toni
I laughed, cried and had lots of memories flood my spirit as I read this book. I could relate to almost every story or at least enjoy the message and the storytellers. Read morePublished on December 22, 2008 by C. Jones