In Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles, professor and author Bert Ashe delivers a witty, fascinating, and unprecedented account of black male identity as seen through our culture’s perceptions of hair. It is a deeply personal story that weaves together the cultural and political history of dreadlocks with Ashe’s own mid-life journey to lock his hair. Ashe is a fresh, new voice that addresses the importance of black hair in the 20th and 21st centuries through an accessible, humorous, and literary style sure to engage a wide variety of readers. After leading a far-too-conventional life for forty years, Ashe began a long, arduous, uncertain process of locking his own hair in an attempt to step out of American convention. Black hair, after all, matters. Few Americans are subject to snap judgements like those in the African-American community, and fewer communities face such loaded criticism about their appearances, in particular their hair. Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles makes the argument that the story of dreadlocks in America can’t be told except in front of the backdrop of black hair in America.
Ask most Americans about dreadlocks and they immediately conjure a picture of Bob Marley: on stage, mid-song, dreads splayed. When most Americans see dreadlocks, a range of assumptions quickly follow: he’s Jamaican, he’s Rasta, he plays reggae; he stinks, he smokes, he deals; he’s bohemian, he’s creative, he’s counter-cultural. Few styles in America have more symbolism and generate more conflicting views than dreadlocks. To “read” dreadlocks is to take the cultural pulse of America. To read Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles is to understand a larger story about the truths and biases present in how we perceive ourselves and others. Ashe’s riveting and intimate work, a genuine first of its kind, will be a seminal work for years to come.
Praise for Bert Ashe's Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles: "An exhilarating heartfelt memoir about a black man and his dreds and all the world in between." --Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao "A hilarious, erudite, obsessive compulsive rant through black bohemia and black style." --Trey Ellis, author of Platitudes and Right Here, Right Now "It's really just hair, but it also represents something much deeper for people who are marginalized. And Twisted offers a complete and satisfying explanation of why that is so." --Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, The Washington Post "Beneath the sometimes outre humor and self-deprecating tone of Twisted are serious and poignant questions about the nature of black identity, who shapes it and why and how black folks might finally seize control of that identity themselves." --Erin Aubry Kaplan, Los Angeles Times "... An anthem and a love song to dreadlocks. Ashe's story is one of yearning written with poetic frankness." --Shelf Awareness, starred review "... Twisted is incredibly witty and entertaining. Here is a voice fresh with enthusiasm, both defiant and strong." --Hope Wabuke, The Root "In this delightfully written, amusing, well-researched, and often scholarly chronicle, Ashe reveals the landscape of race, politics, sociology, and even the economics of hairstyles." --Booklist starred review "Twisted is equal parts amusing as it is enlightening for readers, regardless of their hair textures, and a necessary read that finally gives dreadlocks the praise they deserve." --Nylon "Twisted will inspire you to look in the mirror and investigate what messages are conveyed by your clothes, your demeanor and, most importantly, your hair." --Danielle Deavens, Essence "Ashe refuses to be stifled by typical academic strictures, and his attitude throughout seems playfully serious (or seriously playful), as he details more about dreads--their origin, their rise to popularity, their co-option, their care and upkeep--than most readers will think they would want to know." --Kirkus Reviews "... An eye-opening read, but one that will keep you smiling from cover to cover." --Emily Laurence, Brit + Co "I really do admire it. Bert Ashe is amazingly willing to acknowledge all of the ways in which underneath the dreads is just a guy with a mixture of identities, and that the dreads might appear to resolve such issues, but actually do nothing of the kind. I found Twisted deeply satisfying. By the end of the book, I felt as if I had been taken on a quite serious emotional and intellectual journey." --David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto and Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season "As his mane grows and twists, Ashe does likewise with his tales, with his thoughts, and, delightfully, with the process of the style, the reasons why he waited to grow his dreads, and why ... he's kept them." --The Times Weekly "I like the style, the moves, the sense of rhythm and riff and the seeming ease with which [Twisted]... pulls off some extraordinary effects. The plot is about dreadlocks, but at its heart Twisted is the narrative of the emerging and expanding self." --John Callahan, literary executor for Ralph Ellison and editor of Ellison's Juneteenth "[Ashe's] is a welcome fresh voice, starting a conversation about black culture from a quirky, fun angle." --Metro "I enjoyed Twisted! It's obsessive and weird and funny in all the right ways." --Danzy Senna, bestselling author of Caucasia and You Are Free "Bert [Ashe] keeps you intrigued and delighted throughout the book's various strands... Twisted, at bottom, is an unusual expose of the African American male: whereas machismo, sexual exploits, or political issues are usually at the forefront, Bert convinces us that his hairstyle is the central issue in his attempt to express himself and discover himself. You'll be surprised how much we learn about American culture through Bert's fascinating wrestling match with his locks." --Daryl Cumber Dance, author of Honey, Hush!: An Anthology of African American Women's Humor and From My People: 400 Years of African American Folklore
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