National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholar's grant.
Hair: Public, Political, Extremely Personal, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2000.
Also contributor to periodicals, including Nation.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A book about perfume.
Diane Simon typically writes articles about literature and entertainment for various magazines, but with her 2000 publication, Hair: Public, Political, Extremely Personal, she ventured into the book-length form. Here, Simon includes interviews, cultural history, and personal observation dealing with the hair industry, from braiding shops in Harlem to hair-removal salons and hair enhancement clubs, to create an "amusing and informative cultural history of hair in American society," according to Library Journal critic Kimberly L. Clarke. Simon, inspired by a dissatisfaction with her own perennially frizzy hair, spent eighteen months researching her subject, personally visiting salons and interviewing staff and customers alike to provide a history of "20th-century hair from the flapper bob and the bouffant to the Afro and hippie hair," according to K. C. Baker in People.
Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman noted that Simon "explores the racial connotations of hair with admirable candor and sly hipness." But a contributor for Publishers Weekly, while appreciating Simon's "fun, sociological tidbits," concluded that the book is a "thin treatment" of the subject. And although Maggie Jones, writing in Salon.com, found the book "prodigiously researched," she described Hair as a "rambling American culture dissertation." For Jones, "it's as if [Simon had] tossed all these hair tidbits in the air, hoping they would fall into a sophisticated thesis. Instead, they just hang flat." However, a reviewer for the Atlantic enjoyed Simon's book as a "factual, anecdotal, and often amusing" work.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Atlantic, May, 2000, review of Hair: Public, Political, Extremely Personal, p. 130.
Booklist, April 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Hair, p. 1420.
Library Journal, March 15, 2000, Kimberly L. Clarke, review of Hair, p. 114.
People, August 28, 2000, K. C. Baker, "Hair Today: Braided? Faded? Falling Out? Author Diane Simon Tries to Untangle Why We Can't Leave Our Locks Alone," p. 133.
Publishers Weekly, February 28, 2000, review of Hair, p. 71.